Submitted by Maureen, mother of 7-year old Kenny and 5-year old Stephanie:
"I was having a terrible problem with my son biting his sister during their arguments. Even though Kenny is older, his sister has better language skills. So when they would argue, Stephanie seemed to have the upper hand because she could out-wit Kenny with words. Out of frustration, he would resort to biting to win. Unfortunately it usually worked. Stephanie would back off after being hurt by Kenny.
Based on reading Peaceful Parenting® and especially the tips I’ve learned from the newsletter, I realized I could solve this problem differently from punishing Kenny for biting. Here’s what I did.
When the kids were playing nicely with each other, enjoying one another, I interrupted them. I asked them what they were doing. I asked them why they were able to get along so well together during this game. Although their answers weren’t very specific, they answered.
Next I asked them how they might handle an argument differently from their usual way of Stephanie using words and Kenny biting. Neither of them had a different idea. I was ready so I suggested one. I presented them with a “magic ball. ” This is a simple multi-colored rubber ball I purchased. I told them that as soon as either one of them feels there is a conflict brewing, he or she will pick up the ball. This will tell the other to ‘back off. ’ It also means that the two of them together need to come to me so I can help them solve their conflict. My plan was to ask the magical question when they came to me for help. Both of them agreed to follow the plan.
In the beginning I had to enter into the arguments as they had already started and hand one of them the ball. Then I would ask, ‘Stephanie, what is it that you want that you are trying to get by using bullying words with Kenny?’ Or, ‘Kenny, what is it that you want that you are trying to get by biting Stephanie?’ Once I found out what the child wanted I would help him or her learn another way to get what was wanted. I would also ask, ‘Are you willing to pick up the magic ball next time before you use words/bite?’
I was patient. It seemed as though I was the one who was picking up the magic ball. But after about two weeks the kids started using the ball! And now an even more wonderful thing has happened. The kids have learned the magic question so well that when one picks up the ball the other asks what she or he wants without me having to intervene at all.
Thanks Peaceful Parenting®. Teaching my children how to work things out together without using ugly words or behaviors has been a miracle!"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy S. Buck, Ph. D. established Peaceful Parenting, Inc.in 2000 to bring her knowledge and experience with effective parenting to the greatest number of parents and other caretakers of children. She developed the Peaceful Parenting ® program from her 25 years of experience as a developmental psychologist, trainer and educator with The William Glasser Institute and as the mother of twin sons. Her genuine, warm and authentic teaching style is clear and concise, helping learners move from the theoretical to real life situations.
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