I’ve hit upon an idea, and it’s a good one.
Okay, okay, total honesty time, my daughter has hit on an idea which was actually a re-hash of how we used to do things before the split.
With her being 8 and he being 4, the usual rivalries etc. rear their heads from time to time. A household can descend into a lawless wasteland if behaviour is left unchallenged.
We’ve been going through the normal challenges that children pass through, where they exercise the human condition of testing boundaries. I am a disciplinarian, but also a humanitarian. Being brought up by a strict father (including corporal punishment) I decided way before I had the cubs that I wouldn’t be that kind of guy. After all, what does beating a child ever teach them, that the bigger and stronger person is always right?
I could never hit my cubs. Such outbursts smack of frustration, a lack of control and revenge for not being obeyed.
In a technique honed with my daughter, I prefer to reason things out in conversation, with age appropriate language. Tone of voice and cadence also came in to play, supported by changing facial expressions. It seemed to work. She’s well-adjusted and appears to be quite rational.
He’s a little different. He gets frustrated quickly which I suspect is linked with his rough start in life and the fact that his diction isn’t quite where it could be for a child his age; he struggles to be understood at times.
His sister can also press his buttons pretty easily and she does so often.
We had just emerged from a period of them sniping at each other, where my techniques weren’t working. I resorted to separating them and temporary banishment to respective bedrooms.
She broke the embargo to come and talk to me.
‘You know dad you should maybe bring back the star system. Every time we do something good, we get a star. When we’re not so good, you take one away.’
This was something we used to do regularly and it worked particularly well. Great idea, I told her, and gave her a hug. I also asked her why she winds her brother up all the time.
‘Because he reacts!’ she states, before heading back to her confines.
The notice board in the kitchen now has two sections. One for her and one for him. Stars are drawn for good behaviour and removed for violations. I’m not too specific as what constitutes what, as I don’t want them to escape on a technicality.
It’s been in force about a week now and seems to be working. I added the further incentive that if either got to 10 stars, I would convert those stars into pounds, or an equivalently valued treat.
If only my dad had been as inventive.