When Kids Quarrel

I remember the day when my 3 boys were in an argument when they were still 4, 5 and 7 years old.

One would point to the other for being at fault and saying: “You destroyed my toy.” The other would say: “I got mad because of YOU.”  The other one would say something like: “I’m even angrier because of what you did.”

When I saw the 3 arguing, in a chaotic discourse of finger-pointing, I approached them.  I didn’t tell them to stop.  I didn’t shout.  I didn’t give orders.  Sure it was noisy with 3 boys practically talking at the same time.  But what good will shouting do if what I will achieve is momentary peace.  My objective is for my kids to BE EMPOWERED to handle these disagreements in the future.

I said to them: “Hi! May I ask you something?”  I addressed one of them: “Has your brother X done anything to help you in the past?”  The answer was a nod.  I asked brother Y: “Has brother Z done anything to help you in the past?” The answer was “Yes”. And what about you, Z, has brother Y ever done anything to help you?”  By this time, all three were saying yes while nodding their heads.

My follow up: “What did he do for you?”

Each recounted something good about each of the brothers.  A few more minutes and the 3 boys were sharing beautiful and happy experiences of help that they got from each other.  Smiling, laughing.

Then, I asked: “Why do you think that your brothers helped you or did all of those things for you?”  I paused and waited for their answers.

“Because they love me.” was the answer from those young boys.

“Yes.  You all love each other.  Then, why do you have to quarrel?  Everytime one does a mistake, you should recall all the wonderful things that your brother has done for you.  Because those mistakes were unintentional.  When you love someone, you don’t intentionally hurt the person.  If ever your brother makes a mistake we should understand that it was an honest mistake and we have to focus on all the loving and thoughtful things that each has done for one another.  Does that make sense?  Can you do that?”  Nods again from 3 young boys.  “You love each other so you should be showing love for one another.  Embracing, helping each other and not quarreling.”

1)  What you focus on magnifies – instead of talking about the causes of the quarrel itself and focusing on the negatives, I decided to focus on the world’s most powerful emotion called LOVE;
2) Energies are re-channeled or redirected but cannot be stopped – when people quarrel, there are a lot of negative energies within and just like anger, it would be difficult to stop a running train.  It would be smoother and easier to rechannel the discussion and feelings from being negative to positive sharings.  And by doing so, the feelings automatically follow.  When one visualizes positive thoughts, positive feelings automatically flow.

Which comes first, actions or feelings?

People would say, I feel bad and thus, I’m sulking. But the more you sulk, the worse you feel.  Try to read an inspiring book or watch a funny movie.  You will just suddenly realize after some time that you feel better already.  You might be surprised that you are already laughing while watching the movie.  The truth is, by changing our actions, feelings will follow.  When we talk about negatives and focus on the mistakes of our children or spouse, the angrier we get.  By shifting the thoughts to the positive  attributes of a person, we begin to feel good about the person again.

Parenting is not about one incident or few tips put together.  Parenting is more about leading by example.  It is a string of moment-to-moment decisions and judgments, the big things and little acts that will influence our children’s upbringing.

What do you think?