You may remember from my family kindness tokens or our family kindness resolutions that I am hard at work to help my kids to get along and practice kindness towards each other. Parenting is hard and many days it is an uphill battle, but then I experience a magic moment like the morning when, instead of shouting at his brother for taking his book my 10 year old calmly stated, "I was hoping to finish reading that book this morning, but you can look at it now and I will have my next turn after school."
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Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
I was stunned into silence, but my wise husband declared, "That was an excellent approach to the situation, Kiddo."
That's not to say there won't be fighting later on today, but still. It's heartening to think that some of my strategies are having an impact and it certainly inspires me to keep working at it.
Enter the sibling kindness "tip jar."
It started because during December I had the boys create "sibling kindness advent calendars." I never wrote a post about it, but I shared the idea on our Facebook page. Their response to it was quite positive so I wanted to find a way to extend the idea throughout the year.
I've been reading a fantastically helpful book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind which states,
You're never going to get the conflict side of the equation to zero. Siblings argue; they just do. But if you can increase the other side of the equation, giving them activities that produce positive emotions and memories, you'll create strong bonds between them and set up a relationship that has a good chance of remaining solid for life.
Note the phrase: "Siblings argue; they just do." Does that lift a bit of weight from the shoulders of any other parents?
Our kindness "tip jar" is designed to "increase the other side of the equation" by helping the boys remember their successful and fun moments together.
At least once a day, I write down their moment of kindness and drop it into the "tip jar". Either of the boys can also write down statements about his brother if he wants to, or if I overhear something, I will write it down and drop it in the jar.
I randomly read off the statements, usually at meal times, but often just before getting everyone ready for bed. These little reminders are designed to reinforce the idea that the boys are successful when they are kind to each other. I can tell they enjoy hearing positive statements and I like to think that my acknowledgment of their cooperative moments is an act of kindness towards them, too.
Let's hear it for family kindness.
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How do you help siblings get along?