This idea has worked for us: I print and laminate Kindness Cards, one for each child, and carry them in the pocket of my apron for a couple of weeks, along with a star punch. Then, every time I catch one of the kids doing something nice for someone, I pull out their card and give it another punch. Once the card is full, they receive a special treat.
Over the years, people have often commented on how encouraging and protective our children are of one another. This is normally the case, for which we are very grateful, but there have definitely been times when a couple of siblings have gotten at odds with one another. At those times, it’s become a challenge to even get along, much less to go the extra mile.
Whenever that happens, we set the offending pair down and discuss the behavior and attitudes we consider unacceptable and brainstorm alternative ways of communicating that would be more agreeable to all parties involved.
If the children involved are very young (and even sometimes when they’re older), we make them practice the “right way” to get along by running through whatever situation got them into trouble and responding to one another in the preferred manner.
Just telling kids to “stop fighting” never seems to work for us. We’ve got to replace the bad actions with good actions, or we’ll never achieve the results we are seeking. That’s when I pull out these little punch cards. We don’t use them all the time, only when we are really concentrating on establishing new habits.
Not only do the cards encourage my kids to be thoughtful, but they remind me to recognize, reward, and reinforce the praiseworthy things my children do, instead of just zeroing in on areas that need correction. And that’s a good thing for all of us.