Battles between children are inevitable. Having been a Mum negotiating between girls and now a Nan negotiating between boys I feel I have seen it all. Are boys more physical? Or is it because their Granddad taught them ‘rough play’ from the earliest of days. He would deny it but he is undoubtedly always ready to encourage the loud, physical jumps, screams and clambers of the boys. Their Mum does not remember the same treatment. Nor does she approve of this.
The battles escalated once the boys reached about 2 years old. The two youngest have shared a buggy. Sitting alongside each other led to the occasional high octane wrangle.
One day they each had a pot of raisins. Elliot finished his first. He looked yearningly at Kevin’s pot. Kevin delicately picked his raisins out one by one. Elliot regretted his fistful approach. He made a lunge for Kevin’s pot grabbing a few which he quickly deposited in his mouth.
Kevin screamed at him. Elliot’s response was to take a full arm swipe at Kevin hitting him in the face. Nan intervened. Reprimands were given and all was quiet but not for long. Kevin continued with the juicy temptation, still the object of Elliot’s desire.
Seconds later another lunge and a full blown fight ensued. A slap on the face was greeted with a punch in the chest, another hook and the screams rose. Nanny had had enough. The buggy was swung round. I kneeled down to face them. They looked sheepish.
‘We do not fight with each other. It is time for the ‘NO FIGHTING’ ceremony’. Silence. Complete attention.
‘Hold each others little fingers and mine and we will make a circle’
‘Okay Nanny’… there was the challenge of very tiny little fingers wrapped around mine but we managed it.
‘ Now we sing … we are the No Fighting Team Yayyyy’. This triggered much laughter.
Over and over we repeated it. No more fights for the rest of the day. It may have been a matter of diversion or a ritual that worked. Maybe a little of both.
When my daughter was about 8 she had a little buddy with whom she was absolutely best friends. They saw each other at school and virtually every weekend. She came on holiday with us. In their primary years they had many battles. Typically headlined with ‘that’s not fair’ or ‘it’s my turn’…. I got fed up with the calls to be arbitrator so we established the friendship ceremony.
Each girl was asked to drop to their knees. They faced each other. I played back to them what they had done. They listened. I then said
‘ Are you friends’
‘ Then now it is the time to have the friendship ceremony’. They were asked to stretch out their arms beside them at 90 degree angles to their bodies. Each said in turn ‘ I am your friend’ (in between smiles) .
‘Now wrap your arms around each other and have a big squeezy hug’. This was their favourite part.
‘OK now go back and play nicely together please. Off they trouped holding hands…until the next time.
Await the day when your teenager will turn to you as a grumpy couple and directs a friendship ceremony on you! It has happened.
Design a ritual to divert and engage all the little fighters