Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Train Up Your Child: Work it Out

I know I shared this before... right after it happened. It's worth sharing again though and I believe I have a bit more to add to it now that we've been doing it for a while.


Training is going beyond just punishing to teaching children the correct behaviors. Sometimes punishment is helpful, sometimes it is not.

A recent example I have is from a situation with Jason and Liza. They are ALWAYS fighting over who gets to go first for things. One morning after breakfast Liza announced “I’m washing my hands first!” and started on her way to the bathroom. Jason jumped down from the table yelling “NOOO! I’M WASHING MY HANDS FIRST!” And in the process of trying to get to the bathroom faster he hurt himself.

I was tired of it. SO… I stopped the kids before either of them got to the bathroom. I brought them into the living room and had them sit on the hard floor facing each other with their dirty hands and I told them “you will sit there until you can come up with a solution to your problem.”

They were like “huh?”

But I just let them sit there.

After a few minutes I asked them if they sorted it out. The answer was yes. So I asked who was going to wash their hands first and they both raised their hands and said ME!

I explained again that they needed to come up with a new solution because they can’t both wash their hands first.

We went through this probably three or four times before they started talking. Eventually they told me that they were both going to wash their hands at the same time. I told them that it was a good idea but it wasn’t going to work because we only had one small stool and there wasn’t enough room for both of them on it.

They sat there thinking for a moment when they decided together that it would be best to take one of their little chairs into the bathroom so that they would both have something to stand on at the same time and they could wash their hands together.

You see… I could have just jumped in, refereed the situation, made up a chart to keep track of who’s turn it is to go first. But I chose to train them instead.

They need to learn problem solving and it’s better to learn on things that don’t really matter so that they are prepared for the things that do.

And the end result? Instead of fighting they were working together as a team.

We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and they have learned to work things out quickly and we are having less and less fights (they still fight!) as they realize that they are just going to have to work it out.

They are problem solving.
They are working together.
Most fights end up with them laughing and playing once they work it out.
They are being less and less selfish as they learn it doesn't really matter who gets to go first.
They are learning to compromise.

And I'm punishing less.

Now, most of the time when they start getting frustrated with each other I simply say "work it out" and they stop fighting and start working it out.

Do it!

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