This post is part of a series of posts about the systems I use during the summer to help keep our days simple, fun, educational and productive. You can also check out my Stress-Less Family Summer System which features another bucket activity.
My husband and I do our best to show love and understanding to our children. We are far from perfect and are continually striving to improve, but we do make a concerted effort.
However, even on our best days, the love in our home can get driven out very quickly when siblings start fighting. I don’t know if it is our kids close ages (we had four kids in three years) or what, but man alive, they can fight!
We’ve had punching, slapping, kicking, screaming and even biting!
Honestly, I’m sometimes completely shocked.
To their credit, as often as they are mean to each other, they are even more often kind to each other and very often play exceptionally well together.
But when they fight, it is enough to drive us all a little crazy! It is in these times that I find it especially tough to keep my cool and provide firm discipline and limits. I start to get emotional and angry myself and I don’t think clearly.
I’ll sometimes hear myself saying things I don’t really want to enforce: IF YOU KEEP IT UP YOU ARE GOING TO BED FOR THE REST OF THE DAY (at 11 am) and then I panic because I don’t really know what to do after that. Or I’m just so sick of it that I almost pretend it isn’t happening and kinda start pleading: C’mon guys……stop it. Or I give a consequence that is completely unrelated to the “crime” and doesn’t really teach much long term.
I Needed a Solution
This summer I decided that we needed something different. I didn’t want to have to think of a consequence each and every time my kids were fighting. I didn’t want to be the one breaking it up and providing solutions. I didn’t want the headache and I wanted to put the responsibility back on my kids. I wanted clear expectations and firm consequences that made sense in the moment. I wanted to dip deeper than just putting a toy on top of the fridge…I wanted to get at the cause of all these sibling fights….we weren’t really loving each other like we should.
Love is spoken here Bucket
When I found this post: Creative Discipline, Our Get Along Jar from Millions of Miles on pinterest, I knew I had my answer! What a fantastic idea! It provided just the solution I was looking for: simple and easy, yet effective and real! Her idea got to the problem of a lack of love, but in a somewhat fun and totally appropriate way!
But I wanted to call it something different…some that fit our family and conveyed the reason behind the consequences for sibling fights. The phrase “Love is spoken here” comes from a LDS primary song. It is my daughter’s favorite song and she asks me to sing it to her nearly every night at bedtime. It is a simple but touching song. If you are unfamiliar with it, you can find it here. It teaches the importance of love in our homes and how children feel more secure when there is love in their homes. It is a favorite song in our home for many reasons.
How it Works
It is so simple it’s awesome! Anytime someone in our home is fighting, I simply ask them to go pick a stick from the love is spoken here bucket. If two are clearly at fault, they both pick one. If I’m not sure, they both pick one. If it is very clear there is just one offender, then only he or she picks one. And I’ve also told my kids that they can ask me to pick a stick if they feel I need to show a little more love in our home.
And instead of being completely unrelated consequences, each of the sticks in our bucket encourage some sort of bonding between those that were fighting. Some are actually fun (but may not sound so if you are really mad at the person you have to do it with), and others are chores. But the best part is I don’t have to think of something each and every time! Whoo Hooo! Here are the consequences you will find in our bucket:
- Do the Hokey Pokey together
- Wash windows together
- Dance with each other
- Do an extra chore for the other person and give them the money you earn
- Make the other person’s bed or clean up something in their room
- Tell the other person 5 talents that they have (in there a few times)
- Dance with each other
- Sit quietly by each other for 5 minutes
- Draw a picture for the other person
- Hug each other for 30 seconds
- Take a bubble bath together (with swimsuits on)
- Tell the other person 5 things you like about them (in there a few times)
- Tell each other a joke
- Share a favorite toy of yours with the other person
- Clean doorknobs together
- Take out the trash together
- Run around the house five times chasing each other
- Make a snack for the other person
- Do 20 jumping jacks
- Sing a song for the other person
- Clean baseboard and walls together
Have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them and add them to the list!