offer to help . . .

At our house ANYTIME any of the kids are having a problem (no matter what the problem is) David and I always offer to help.  To put it simply we say, "Can I help you?  Or do you need some help?"  I can be in the basement folding laundry and I will hear a blood curdling scream and some shouting and other horrible sounds.  Before we punish, we always offer to help.  It goes like this . . . H takes M's pen right out of her hand, M screams at the top of her lungs and H just sits there.  Even though I am completely irritated because this is the 23rd conflict I have resolved and it's only 10AM, I offer to help them.  I know H is wrong and I could just punish him and be done with it.  But, instead I offer to help both of them.  Even though H was wrong for taking the pen and M was wrong for screaming at him.  They both could use some help navigating the situation going for forward and for the next time it happens.  I don't remember how or why we started doing this, but the effects are amazing.  Here is the list . . .

  1. When war breaks out in our house.  I don't immediately punish, I offer to help.  Our kids don't fear me walking into a room when they know they have done something wrong.  Instead I am offering an olive branch to them and the are eager to speak up and be heard.
  2. Because we are constantly offering to help our kids, they are always offering to help each other!
  3. When the kids get in arguments with each other they have been taught to ask for help rather than engage.  So rather than Murphy taking a swing at Harvey she is working on asking for help and then I can help her solve her situation.  I can hear them getting better and better at negotiating and communicating with each other.
  4. Lastly and the best part, when I offer to help the kids I instantly calm down.  Instantly!

So next time your little ones or teenagers or even husband are loosing it, just offer to help.  See what happens.  Oh and for the record, if you are wondering whether or not I handle these little situations at my house perfectly every time.  You can rest your head at night knowing the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT . . . but I wish I did!