My parents did and do not believe in punishment interventions like sending the children out of the room or making them sit on the stairs as a way of punishment. What they did believe to be helpful were creative solutions that generated the desired results in a positive way. My father was very good at this approach and came up with all sorts of positive, constructive ways to make us aware of the impact of our behavior. From this, I have learned that a lot can be achieved with positivity and creativity, in a very valuable way. How?
I grew up in a family of 5, with a father, a mother, a brother, and a sister. Of course, I and my siblings did not always go along perfectly well and sometimes there were little ‘fights’, as happens between young siblings. And of course, occasionally one sibling would push one of the others – as siblings sometimes do when they are having an argument. When my father noticed or came to know that one of the children had been giving his or her sibling a push or a jolt, he made them sit down around the table. To the child who had been giving the push or the jolt, he said: “Say sorry to your sister/brother and after having said sorry, say something nice to her/him as well.” That ‘something nice’ could be a compliment about for example the nice dress of the sister, or something like “I like what you’ve done with your hair” or “I like you”. The reason my father made me and my siblings say not only “sorry” but also something nice (something positive) was that he understood that the word ‘sorry’ doesn’t really say or mean a lot to a child and therefore does not have a lot of impact on a child. It doesn’t impress children so much. But sweet, nice, kind things being voiced DO have a lot of impact on children! And when there is impact, awareness arises. By approaching things this way, my father made sure that sitting down around the table and saying “sorry” had much more impact on the children and generated more awareness about their behavior. He chose a positive and constructive approach where the children also had to say something nice to one another, and it worked very well and resulted in something beautiful and positive, without the parent having to get angry!
I have applied this approach - which I learned from my father - quite frequently when I was working with children and the reactions of the children to this approach are very positive, always! A beautiful ‘extra’ of this approach is that children tend to adopt it quite quickly and then start to remind one another that after the ‘sorry’ something nice or kind has to be said as well! To this very day, I still receive feedback from parents whose children I have worked with in the past, informing me that the children say things like “Ro says you also have to say something nice after sorry” and “Say something nice to me!”
Test it out and I assume it will help you.
With a lot of love,