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Not sure about your household and your kids but my kids fight and say mean things to each other on occasion. I started implementing something that was successful with my niece and nephew when they were growing up.
My nephew (who is 6+ years older than my niece) would belittle her regularly. That was not good for her self-image and quite frankly wasn't healthy for him to be saying those things either. When it happened in my home instead of having him apologize I had him do something else.
I wasn't just interested in the words he was saying. My concern was the matter of the heart and the condition of their souls. Sticks and stones may break bones but oh those words will do someone in!
When my nephew starting in on my niece, these are the steps I took to turn it around. I had him stop saying those things. Then he had to look his sister in the eye and say 10 nice things about her. And NONE of them could be about her appearance. He couldn't say, "You have a nice shirt on." or "I like your hair." It had to be about her - as a person, as a sister, as a member of the family.
He struggled through the first few things nice to say. Then when he got to the 5th or 6th one something shifted. He started being sincere and her posture started to improve. Admit it or not, it was as if he was grateful to speak life into his sister's heart. His posture towards her changed. It wasn't "lording over" it was "speaking over." As his dialogue towards her changed, she changed. And you know what, in her head she was counting to make sure he got to 10 and she was relishing in his compliments! What a difference it made.
Well, this past week I had to pull that tool out of my parenting tool box. I dusted it off when my youngest started berating the oldest. To which my oldest jumped on the name calling band wagon and reciprocated. Mommy said, "Pause!" Then I had them stand face to face.
The youngest proceeded to say 5 nice things or something they appreciate about the older one. (Five because of their ages. The number will go up the older they get if they repeat this behavior.) After each nice or uplifting statement, the other sibling had to say, "Thank you, (the child's name here)." Then it was repeated with the older one speaking kind things and the younger verbalizing thanks. It ended with a hug.
Whew! It changes the atmosphere, gets them to think, and makes a difference in their interactions. Change the words and change the course.
Here are some good Proverbs about words and how they are spoken:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov. 15:1
"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Prov. 16:24
May peace and harmony be in your home as you use the tools in your toolbox well!
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