The exaggerated eye-rolling is becoming a bad habit. For the most part, your kids are respectful, helpful and get along (fairly) well. But now it seems like a bad attitude is taking over. Rude comments are made, chores aren’t getting done and no one seems to care!
How can you encourage respect?
One option would be to put more rules in place. Tighten the reigns. Create tougher consequences. Unfortunately, these methods usually lead to more disrespect, not less.
Such tactics seem to work initially because kids are afraid of the punishment. But once the fear wears off, they start to feel resentful. Angry. Less willing to comply because there is a disconnect between the two of you.
What if a simple game could change the attitude in your house?
Kids want to feel like they belong, like they’re part of a team. They want to feel loved and respected. When they are assured of this fact, they seem happier, less argumentative and more willing to treat others with kindness.
Sometimes, the best way to change unwanted behavior is to interrupt the cycle, to introduce something that re-focuses on the behavior you want to see instead of highlighting the unwanted behavior. Your kids don’t need another lecture about being nice!
If you want to shift the mood from disrespectful and rude to positive and helpful, try playing the Family Kindness Game.
How to play:
1. Put the names of all family members into a hat — parents too! Just skip the babies and toddlers.
2. Each person draws a name, keeping the name a secret.
3. For 48 hours, your job is to be especially kind to that person.
4. Make it fun! Get some positive energy going!
Of course, it’s a game. You don’t want the other person to guess right away. So, to make it less obvious, encourage people to be especially kind to everyone in the family — not just the person they drew.
Brainstorm some ideas for kindness: giving each other compliments, doing the other person’s chore or task, drawing a picture, making them a snack or getting them a drink, letting the other person go first, etc. Then, sit back and watch your family members try to out-do each other with kindness!
People were going out of their way to be kind to one another, serving each other and helping around the house without being asked!
Does it really work?
You may be doing some eye-rolling of your own, thinking, “Yeah, right. This will never work for my kids.”
Here’s the thing: People want to be wanted! They long to be respected and treated with kindness. It’s hard to stay grumpy when people are giving you compliments.
Of course, you’ll never know unless you try. Maybe you try the game for one day or just during dinner.
It’s all about the delivery. If you don’t think it will work, neither will your kids. You need to sell it!
Here's my experience
We’ve played the game twice with our kids. Both times, I was amazed at how quickly the attitude changed. People were going out of their way to be kind to one another, serving each other and helping around the house without being asked!
When we played the game six months ago, I guessed everyone’s secret person fairly quickly. This time, I was stumped. My kids loved the idea of throwing people off by being kind to more than one person or by switching people randomly. It was awesome!
They are begging to play another round soon, but for now I’m going to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while it lasts.
Originally published by Imperfect Families