Consequence or Memory?
My kids have special needs but they also fight just like most siblings. This recent fight in particular had me so upset. I was definitely not happy with the way they treated each other nor was I happy with the way I was treated when I intervened. Their fight was so loud my mother in law came up to help – no luck. While we had them separated she and I sat talking just to give them some time to cool down but really I was talking and trying to come up with some discipline that would be memorable and meaningful.
Once everything was calm I called them both over. I told them I was going to let them choose their consequence. They could either go to bed a full hour early OR they could do whatever I ask – just one thing. They thought about what that requirement might be but ultimately decided they would do whatever I asked.
I told them they needed to sit on the couch – not on top of each other but close enough that they could reach each other. AND they needed to hold hands for ten minutes. They didn’t need to look at each other, they didn’t need to talk to one another but they couldn’t yank one another, squeeze tightly or mutter one mean word to one another. But it had to be a full hand hold.
My mother in law was cracking up. It was hilarious watching their maneuvers. They did it – they were squirming and moaning and trying not to pull on each other, while trying desperately not to look at each other. After five minutes the whining was getting a little louder.
I said – well – you could hold hands for five more minutes or you could do one thing that I ask! (My mother in law was giggling out of their ear shot and field of vision). Being the skeptics that they are – they took a long moment. But they really didn’t want to hold hands anymore. We’ll do it – we’ll do it – tell us what it is.
I told them they needed to apologize with meaning, while giving each other a hug and they can’t let go of the hug until they both complete sincere apologies. This they did without whining and definitely very sincere.
When they were done I called them over and explained that next time they feel the need to touch each other in anger, the consequence would be more touching, for longer periods until they felt they no longer needed to touch each other in anger. They just can’t keep their hands to themselves…
Hopefully they think twice before their anger gets to that point again – if not, their can’t be any harm in them learning to hold hands, hug and apologize.