8.03.2012

Author Marianne Richmond Guest Post

Today I'm sleeping in a bit, guest posting about The Power of Words in Canada for Barb over at Grade ONEderful {HERE}, and totally excited to welcome author (and friend!) Marianne Richmond to my Corner of the world. It's SO comforting to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with sibling rivalry during the summer months. Thank you, Marianne, for stopping by to validate our experiences and offer a valuable parenting strategy and conflict-resolution skill.

Pride of Ownership by Marianne Richmond

“Two more days ‘til summer vacation!” announced my 10-year-old girl. And yep, I felt the feeling right on cue. For this work-from-home author/mother, the feeling is a mix of relief and dread. Relief for slower mornings and no homework. Dread for how to wrap my writing and creative projects around my children’s schedules while bracing for the inevitable conflicts that arise when four children co-exist in the same space for three months.

A few days into summer break, I heard the familiar screams from the backyard trampoline as Child 2 and Child 3 started yet another argument. It’s a familiar dance between these two. Neither can walk away and neither claims any ownership of the “it takes two to fight” reality. Child 1 and Child 4 usually have ancillary roles as witnesses and offer varying accounts of what goes down. This is traditionally followed by one or both of the fighters (usually the younger one) coming into the house in tears, begging me to punish the older co-conspirator.

On this particular day, I was taken by surprise as we broke with the usual. My older Child 3 was the one in tears, expressing a new depth of hurt and weariness at being the target of his younger sister’s bullying behaviors. I sensed we were moving beyond the normal sibling rivalry stuff and getting into the territory of lasting wounds to a young boy’s heart and self worth.

Suddenly -- This mom lost it. I told them I was sick of the angst and arguments. I told them they were ALL (all four of them) grounded to the house for the rest of the day until I could figure out how I was going to change things up a bit. I refused to do summer this way. 

The next morning, I told my kids they were having their own family meeting out on the trampoline. And they were not to come back into the house until they had come up with solutions to the problems they seemed to be having. I took out a notebook and ripped out three pages. 


At the top of page one, I wrote, “It Hurts my Feelings When You Do or Say the Following….” 


On the top of page two, I wrote, “I Promise to Change the Following Behavior….” 


And on the top of page three I wrote, “If we continue to fight and hurt each other’s feelings, this should happen….” 


Well guess what? They had NO TROUBLE completing this task! As a kid, they each knew exactly how they contribute to the family angst. Their meeting was calm, respectful and productive. We hung up their answers and refer back to them when needed, i.e., “Why would you do that when you know it hurts his feelings?” The process of owning their behavior has changed the dynamic around here. It showed them that their actions matter and it’s held behaviors in check as they already know what will happen if they don’t – after all, they’ve pre-written their consequences! How’s that for making mom’s summer a little nicer – and helping my kids cultivate an important life skill, too?!

Author Bio: Beloved book author and artist Marianne Richmond has touched the lives of millions over the past two decades through her books, jewelry and greeting cards that offer the most heartfelt way to connect. Check out her website {here} or on Facebook (Marianne Richmond –Author). Any new “likes” from this blog will receive two of her greeting cards as a special thanks.  


2 comments:

  1. As a classroom teacher, I often find myself wondering: "Do they know that their choices are hurting someone (or me!)?" Sometimes the answer is no... and it is important for them to recognize how their actions affect others. Sometimes the answer is yes, and that gives me more information! I wish we had a counselor who could help those children who are choosing to hurt others... especially because many are likely dealing with their own hurts...

    Still, I love the idea of students taking part in determining their consequences. Just recognizing that actions have consequences can lead to a bit of insightful reflection for some kids!

    Thanks, Marianne (and Barbara too)... As you can see, this post has me thinking about approaching this subject in sixth grade before the hurt establishes a foothold in out classroom. Thanks for the motivation!

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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  2. Beautifully handled! I wish I'd thought of my that my two kids were younger:)
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    ❀Barbara❀
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

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