This week's letter is Q and I chose quarreling to discuss. What a choice, right?
My kids are usually pretty friendly with each other, but I won't attempt to hide the truth... they're kids, they're human, and they're as imperfect as anyone else. We do have temper tantrums and arguments quite a bit.
One thing that I have tried to set an example of (and I'm SO FAR away from being a good example) is that we don't use sarcasm here. Some sarcastic remarks can be funny, but most are not. I feel strongly about this but couldn't put my finger on why until I read another mom's post this past week. She mentioned that a person doesn't feel safe to express themselves when sarcasm and teasing happen in the home. I completely agree. Whenever any comment, even expressed humorously, is at the expense of another's self confidence, abilities, actions, or feelings, it is inappropriate. And sarcastic comments can quickly spiral into bullying. So we've tried, and will be forever trying, to avoid sarcasm and teasing in our home.
Being home together all day, and most of the time working in the same room, is a recipe for irritating each other. So I try to help my children enjoy being in each other's company in everything we do. It's hard to control tempers sometimes, and I try to take one on one time with my kids each week so we can discuss anything they want in a safe way. I also write notes back and forth between them when they have something important to say but don't want to discuss it. This has helped more than one child learn new ways to control their temper. I don't want to share details, but it truly has helped here.
Anyone can take time to themselves during the day when they need it, in fact there is Mom's Time right after lunch when I spend time alone to recharge and prepare myself for the second half of the day. Because we've discussed this as a family, my kids know how important it is to take care of ourselves so we can be healthy and happy in all we do, especially in how we interact with each other.
Of course we still have hurt feelings and angry moments, and when those happen the people involved take time to cool off and I take time to listen to all involved when they are ready. When someone does something mean to another person I ask them to find a way to serve that person before the day is over. This helps them think more about how they can help others than about getting their way, and usually has both parties laughing together pretty soon.
I do have one child who has very strong feelings about most things, and is still learning how to express her emotions. We talk frequently about when is an appropriate time to use a screaming voice (not getting her way is not that time). But I also tell her that it is okay to feel mad, and when she does she can say "I'm angry!" and explain why. I don't want to suppress her emotions, but I do want her to express them. As she learns what she is feeling, and the words to express it, she has less temper tantrums and more respectful conversations while sharing her strong feelings in a safe way (for all involved).
I am an imperfect mom, and I know that I need more tools to help with quarreling and anger. Please feel free to comment with ideas that help in your home!