How I finally got my kids to stop fighting…..

Being a parent is definitely a journey. I laugh when I think about the absolutes I held early on in my mothering career (No soda, ever! Chore charts will be followed. Ha.). I have had to give in on a few of my kids’ habits, and I pick my battles, as a means of survival.

Just a few of the things I have learned to accept when it comes to my kids:

  • My middle daughter will wear shorts – and only shorts –  once the temperature creeps out of the 40’s. If she is cold, she will change.
  • My son will not eat green vegetables. He has a generally healthy diet with this exception. He likes fruit. He is growing, his health is good. Oh well.
  • My older daughter has not yet learned to laugh at herself and cannot bear to be the subject of good-natured ribbing (which I have come to realize no one really likes anyway). The whole “we are not laughing at you but with you” line does not work. I tread lightly.

One absolute I continue to hold is no fighting in our house. I have not and will not accept when my kids fight. Run-of-the-mill bickering and teasing is to be expected with three siblings within four years of each other but mean, nasty teasing or fighting is not allowed. Non-negotiable. I have always preached that our home should be a refuge for everyone from school, work, and the outside world. Home is where you get a break.

When it somes to physical fighting, wrestling is fine, but pinching, hitting and slapping is a no-go. My husband tells me about growing up with his younger brother and they literally couldn’t help but wrestle, every night. His mother would put them in their rooms to do homework, and she would watch the clock, waiting for the bedroom doors to open, and the wrestling to commence in the hallway, like clockwork.

In the past few months my kids have been fighting – the hitting, punching and slapping variety. I had punished, lectured, etc., yet nothing was getting through to them. Finally, two weeks ago, my son and daughter were engaged in fisticuffs in one room, while I was watching Downton Abbey on a computer with headphones on (my typical good mother mode) in another. That’s when I heard a slap, so loud, and hard, that it came through my headphones from two rooms away.

I knew my daughter, who is about to be 13 and nearly my size and strength, had wailed on her 9-year old brother, and probably with good reason. I lined them up, and started with my usual lecture while my son sobbed and my daughter continued to plead her case – he started it (I am sure he did), it wasn’t that hard (untrue), etc. I explained – again – that she knew hitting was not allowed, and she especially can hit really hard. She continued to make excuses. So I very calmly grabbed her arm, and quickly slapped her. She couldn’t believe it. I have never laid a hand on my kids. I was very deliberate, and calm. This was not out of anger but to illustrate my point.

My daughter looked at me, completely startled – she couldn’t believe it. I calmly told her that this is what is felt like when she hit her brother. After her state of shock subsided (an hour or so) she hugged me and said she was sorry. She understood. No one has fought since. Call child services, but my kids got the picture.

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Rachael Ray