As a mom to 3 boys, ages 11, 7, and 4, and being a person who doesn't' exactly love wrestling, screaming beasts, I've made it my daily mission to raise kind and gentle human beings. I've found simple ways to teach the boys how to be kind to each other with the hopes they will share this gift with their friends and strangers whenever they exit our 4 walls.
TURN THEM INTO "GREETERS" (NOT THE WAL-MART KIND)
My simple request when my kids see anyone in the family in the morning, or anytime really, is to greet the person with a positive look of acknowledgement (a very difficult task of picking ones head up from an iTouch) and a simple "Good Morning!". And if someone doesn't want to get out of bed and a brother is scurrying past to peek in and say, "Hi." This only takes seconds, but requiring them, day after day, to be polite and acknowledge others should instill in them a habit that lasts a lifetime.
MAKE MEALS A TEAM EFFORT
At our house, nobody is excused from the table until everyone is finished eating. Even when we are hosting play dates we follow this rule. It's a pretty easy way for the boys to learn patience and realize that they are not the center of the universe at all times.
REMIND THEM "LADIES FIRST"
I am the only lady in this house of four dudes. Call me old fashioned, but, darn it chivalry will not die under my watch. Whether we are exiting an airplane, getting off an elevator or simply walking through the doors at school, in our house, ladies come first. I will either say to them, "Ladies first", but often a simple touch of the shoulder (and a knowing glance) will remind them of their manners.
TURN THEM INTO CHEERLEADERS
We support one another and make sure our kids are the other's biggest champions. If one kid has made a special art project, I nudge the other boys to look up from whatever they're doing to give a, "That's cool.", "Awesome.", or at least, "Very interesting!". It's all about noticing their brothers and sharing in their excitement. The more that siblings are involved in each other's lives the less likely they will be coming to blows.
I expect the 3 boys to help each other out whether it be getting the other a fork or helping another tie his shoes. I want them to learn to put someone else's needs before their own and get out of their own heads. The more that they help the others, the more it will form a habit.
CURB THE F-BOMBS
Take notice of what's coming out of your mouths and theirs. I start with how my boys interact between each other and make sure that these actions never go without correction:
- Eye rolling
- Condescending put downs
- Bit@#% tones
Just an easy reminder that it's not appropriate is enough to get them off the path. You can say:
- We don't say that in our house
- That isn't necessary
- Please don't say that
- No thank you
Or any other polite reminder that it's not acceptable. And remember your own tone when you do it, reminding your child that put-down's aren't appropriate with a put-down of your own, kinda defeats the purpose.
Parenting is hard and boys can be tough, but, just because they are boys does not give them the rights to be maniacs.