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I decided on the spot that I had to put an end to the out-of-control fighting in our home. I gathered my (ferocious) ducklings around me and we sat criss-cross applesauce on the front room floor.
I could no longer make it through an evening in our home. Someone was always crying because someone else had hurt them. There was hitting, biting, scratching, pushing and screaming. I don’t know how my little kiddos could handle the chaos, either.
As we sat in a semi-circle, I looked into their worried little eyes (what in the world was Mom up to?!) and asked them how the interactions in our home made them feel. Their answers were standard but not encouraging. My 7-year-old said he was always scared his 4-year-old twin brothers were going to gang up on him. They often did gang up on him — like velociraptors at dinnertime. One 4-year-old said he felt “sad” and the other (with a twinkle in his eye) said he felt “mean.”
I think he was beginning to enjoy being mean, and that probably worried me the most.
In those few minutes on the floor, we talked about what it meant to be a bully. We talked about the things we do that hurt others and decided we didn’t want any more hitting, pushing, biting, fighting or saying mean words. My sensitive 9-year-old told us how mean words hurt her just as much as shoving hurts.
We decided to adopt a "No Tolerance Policy." Well, really I decided to adopt a "No Tolerance Policy" and they agreed they were on board. Together we decided the consequence for being a bully in our home: no warnings and straight to time out. Repeat offenses during the day would result into the loss of a colorful, fluffy pom-pom from their pom-pom reward jar.
There has only been one other time I’ve threatened to take pom-poms out of their glass mason jar. Several months ago I had enough of the "potty talk" — it lasted all day, every day. Over night I rid our family of inappropriate fart jokes by extending up to three verbal warnings, and if they didn’t fix their language, I removed a pom-pom out of their jar. Just like that, it worked. Could curbing fighting really be this easy also?
I remember the terrible fights I'd have with my siblings when my mom wasn’t looking. Once we locked my younger brother out on the front porch in only his underwear. And I don't think we let him back in very quickly. Most of the time we’d chase each other around the dining room table, yelling and screaming until eventually someone’s knee went through the wall.
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