Ask for what you want rather than what you don’t. Instead of “Don’t hit your brother,” say, “gentle hands”; "walking feet"; "quiet voice", "your voice matching mine", "kind words and gentle hands." Remind your kids constantly that, "We love each other and this is our family team. We speak kindly and treat each other with respect. We have a no violence rule. Kind words. Gentle hands.”
- Activity: Write a family manifesto with your kids and list the non-negotiable values for your family team. Allow everyone to contribute. It can include silly things like “Our family values ice cream dates together.” Also include, “Our family team treats each other with respect and kindness. This includes kind words and gentle hands.” “Our family has a no violence policy - this includes no violent words or behavior towards one another.”
- Post the manifesto in your kitchen or a common area where you can refer to it easily.
- Anytime, someone breaks one of the tenets of the family manifesto, remind your team of the manifesto frequently so it becomes hardwired into everyone’s brain.
It is harder than you think to simply ask for the specific behavior or outcome you want. It is easier to tell everyone what not to do and what you don’t like. Practice this new skill of communicating from a proactive rather than a reactive place. The more you practice the better you will get at this game changing skill.
Repetition is how you build mastery and retrain your brain.