This summer, Sarah has been able to spend most days with our neighbors' daughter Celia. They have been in and out of the house and are quite fond of playing the DVD game "Show Me the Wild". The thing that gets me is that every time they are together, they argue. For the most part, I ignore it and it gets settled without me. Both girls know that I have no favorites when they are arguing.
Today, I was blessed (yes, blessed) to have another chance to teach them to work together without arguing. Sarah was watering the plants for me and needed Celia to move her bike. Celia decided that she wasn't going to do that. When Sarah went to move her bike, Celia told her she wasn't allowed to. Instead of ignoring her and moving the bike, Sarah turned around and started yelling at Celia. That's what drew me out. It wasn't the kind of yelling that I could ignore.
When I went outside, Sarah started yelling at me while Celia was sitting on the swing watching. When Sarah finished yelling/telling me about Celia's transgressions, I calmly told her that she was not allowed to talk to me like that. I called her over to the porch while Celia watched in anticipation. Once her attention was on me, I asked her to calmly explain the situation. I told her that this was our yard and she was able to move Celia's bike without permission from Celia if she would not do so. She started to get all uppity about Celia again, but I told her to stop.
Sarah was in the right over moving the bike, but she made the wrong choice when it came to screaming at Celia. We talked over options that were better and I told her she had to apologize to her friend for yelling. Celia sat in the background watching. I think she thought she was off the hook, but I pulled her over after I finished with Sarah. I told her that she was not being a good friend by ignoring Sarah's request to move her bike. In addition to that, she purposely tried to stop Sarah from doing something I asked her and that was not what a good friend did. I told her that she would have to apologize to Sarah.
It's so funny, both girls hate admitting they did something wrong. But as a parent, we need to teach them to work through their disagreements and find a solution without getting angry. We also need to calmly address our kids outbursts in order to take advantage of the teachable moments. Right now, Sarah and Celia are in the kitchen getting water and waiting for lunch. Their friendship is restored and they will play until they have forgotten this mornings lesson... Whether the girls know it or not, they learned an important lesson this morning that will be re-enforced many times over the coming years. And, Lord willing, it will carry over into their adult lives.
Oh, one more thing... When our kids have friends over, we need to discipline the friends just like we discipline our kids (minus the spanking). That includes time-outs and if necessary, sending them home. I do not allow another child to do something at my house that I would not allow Sarah to do. Her friends know that and they still show up! By doing this I not only help shape these kids lives, I let Sarah know that I am fair and consistent with the rules of our home.