Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Pinch Me Yet

I feel like I am living in a dream world. For the last week my children have been getting along with each other. They have squabbles, but they are resolving their issues quickly and without too much mediation. A couple of weeks ago my children spent a lot of time in these chairs.

No, this is not a double timeout (although I could see the value in that). These are our reconciliation chairs. Well actually, they are our kitchen chairs, but when the going gets rough we declare a ceasefire and the girls sit here until a truce has been established. We are not talking about arbitration, with a parent as a third party mediator. Our children sit face to face and figure things out amongst themselves. Usually it goes something like this.

Mad Child: You hit me!

Stubborn Child: No I didn’t!

Mad Child: Yes you did and I didn’t like it.

Stubborn Child: Sorry. I want the doll.

Mad Child: Maybe we can have minutes. (This means share with the aid of a timer)

Stubborn Child: Okay.

Mad Child and Stubborn Child head off to play together, because playing is way more fun than sitting in chairs and arguing.

This system is a lifesaver, because Jeff and I don’t need to insert ourselves into every argument. We are also helping them put some important life skills to practice at a young age. Such as getting along with people around you; fixing a relationship that isn’t going well; and learning to forgive and forget.

Last night Belle made and interesting observation about some friends of hers. She said, “Matt and Susie don’t share very well.”

She spent the day at Matt and Susie’s house so I asked, “With you or with each other?”

“With each other,” she answered.

“Matt and Susie are much farther apart in age and they are brother and sister, so sharing is harder for them,” I explained.

As I spoke, I noticed that Belle was holding the baby doll that she had received for her birthday on Saturday and Ariel was playing with the Fur-Real lamb that Belle also received for her birthday. In fact, the lamb has been nestled under Ariel’s arm for three days now. It does not bother Belle that she has yet to play with this birthday present. It seems one of our family rules has achieved its desired purpose.

In our house possession is nine-tenths of the law. It does not matter who bought it, who made it, or who received it. It only matters who possesses it. This rule has been in effect for so long that Jeff and I cannot remember which toy was given to which child, and neither do the girls. Creating this sharing atmosphere is significantly aided by the fact that our children are of the same gender and seventeen months apart in age.

I am weary of living in this Utopian state where sharing is easy and fighting is rare. I am enough of a realist to know that this will not last and we will return to daily reconciliation chairs sometime soon. Until then I will enjoy the peace and brace myself for the day when I come home to find my daughters confined to their rooms for constant fighting and Jeff silently rocking himself in the corner while cradling a depleted bottle of Grand Marnier.


TheVasquez3 said...

wow that is fantastic!! i am really impressed that they are able to resolve conflict so easily. but yea i suppose coming to an agreement quickly is better than sitting in the chairs.

i really love this idea!

Irene said...

What a great idea! I will have to remember that when my kids get older.

I also had to laugh at the possession comment. There are quite a few things that have since been taken over by our 2 yo, which were actually originally gifts for the 6 yo. Luckily, the 6 yo usually just lets her have them, but occasionally, things get ugly.

moosh in indy. said...

Can I do that with my friends kids? Or will they just go home and tell their moms about the "CRAZY CHAIR LADY"?

JLow said...

I agree: This IS fantastic! I can see 2 ideas in there that every parent can learn and adopt!

My case may be like Matt and Susie, in that we now have a girl and a boy, too; 3 years apart.

Will be interesting to see how things pan out when the younger is able to talk, and argue!

KIDZMAMA said...

I am so trying this. My two older ones are 22 months apart (9 and 7). I usually let them work it out themselves, but it goes on and on. I bet if they sit like your girls the conflict would be resolved faster.

I'm here to get your pasta sauce recipe. I read that Sports Mama loved it and if she has time to make it, then so do I. Of course I'm using jar sauce now. kidzmama@gmail.com Thanks!

E said...

We had red conflict resolution chairs when our kids were little.
Now if only our president could just be forced to sit in one...
Wonderful post. Thanks

LunaNik said...

I really love the face to face, butts in the chair idea. I also like that you don't mediate every argument. I'm trying to do the same for my girls who are also very close in age (only 1 yr and 2 wks apart)

Huckdoll said...

I adore that technique and I am so stealing it from you. I also adore the way the girls are touching toes and legs....the whole concept is brilliant!!

Kelly said...

Can you mail those chairs to me? Or better yet, can you just package yourself up and come live with me for awhile? Purty Please! You are the best Momma!

SuburbanDaddy said...

Reconciliation chairs, what a great concept. I don't think it'll work in my house. My kids are much more, uh, physical, in how they resolve disputes. Maybe because they are boys.

Amy said...

Hi Amy! I've "seen" you around and decided to come on over and visit.
I LOVE this idea and I am totally going to use it for my girls! I have four of them and it seems like I am always in the middle of one fight or another. This is fabulous and I'll try anything!

Just My Type said...

What a good idea....and you, my dear, are full of them. Do you think it will work on 11 and 9 year olds? I'm willing to find out.

I didn't say so earlier but I loved the tribute to your daughter. Very sweet.

pb&j in a bowl said...

I love the reconciliation chair. Great idea and your children are obviously benefitting from it.

toddlerdaddy said...

All these great ideas of resolving disputes - sure beats the one that we grew up with, THE BIGGEST KID ALWAYS WON :)

Being the eldest I tended to quite like the 'old' system

Lizzi said...

What a fabulous idea! My two go at it more than I would like, so I think we may need to adopt reconciliation chairs in our house too. Thanks for sharing!

Rachel said...

My parent's used that system with us and it worked brilliantly! LOVE IT!
I plan on using it with my kiddos too!