When it first happens it is shocking. Friends come over, and suddenly, your children are fighting and arguing. But why?
Communicate Expectations in a Family Meeting
I took one of our family mealtimes to have a family meeting.
A friend recommended that each child should feel heard and their opinions and suggestions for solutions should be respected.
I asked the children – do you like being treated with respect? They agreed.
Then, I told them I wanted to be treated with respect too. And when visitors come over, they should be respected to. Respect should be mutual.
Creating a Family Goal
After we talked about treating each other with respect, I suggested a new family tradition.
On months that we were a successful and respectful family, each child could have a special day.
“What’s a special day?” I said it’s a day where one of the kids would be the leader of the family and all of us would participate in an activity of their choosing on that day.
The kids were excited. They asked many questions about what this special day could be: “You mean we could go swimming?” Yes. “I could invite my friends and we could go to the zoo?” Yes.
Working Together on a Common Goal
After a while my daughter asked, “What happens if my brother ruins it by misbehaving?”
I explained that all and each of us had to be entirely committed to the positive outcome. They yelled: “That is unfair!” I explained if we all agreed on the goal together, we could come up with ways to remind each other to be on our best behavior for the mutual goal of the mutual success. Teamwork pays!
After some deliberation, we all shook hands on it and we pinky swore that we each would support each other on having a successful month.
The next time we had guests over and one of the kids forgot and started misbehaving; the other sibling would put their index finger on their lips to remind the other child. Even when I got too tired to work, they both would come and say “special day” to me with their little hands in the prayer position. They would praise me for working hard and they worked hard as well.
We started to become a team.
The transformation was amazing. They started calming each other down. They asked each other what is wrong. They started helping each other by, played more with each other and were courteous to each other. After a few special days to which they invited their friends, even their friends were supportive of the cause. They would calm each other down and in concert they would mouth: “Special Day.”
A team effort that clearly sets common goals, a clear understanding what needed to be achieved, and a clear reward system worked wonders. And the wonderful times we spend together on the Special Days are some of the best long-term memories we have to this day.
About the All-Star Blogger
Edie Okamoto is a Bay Area resident who raised her children while running an international business consultancy from her home. Now that the children are grown she enjoys sharing her many wonderful parenting and business experiences, as well as observations about current events and culture.