Lego Block Parenting
When my children were younger we used to have these polystyrene blocks, like a big Lego bricks, that they could build with. They were big enough to build a small child-size house, or a great wall and the kids loved them. The boys in particular love anything to do with Lego and building.
Anyway, in an effort to teach them a different perspective on arguing and squabbling I decided to use their beloved big Lego blocks.
It can be exhausting and draining having children bicker with each other incessantly and I’ve noticed at certain ages and with those of with a 1-2 year age gap it can be chronic. It can happen so quickly you barely have time to intervene and it can quickly escalate into them becoming physical.
So, one day we were all in the car and I was driving. Suddenly a driver in front of me swore at me and started shouting out of the window and beeping their horn frantically. The driver had not seen my indicator and assumed I had not used it and had cut them off turning a corner. He was mistaken.
However, he proceeded to really shout and gesticulate wildly in his car to mine in front of all my children. I just ignored him. I heard him and I could feel myself getting emotional – I was the innocent party here – he had made a mistake.
Yet, for the sake of my children I simply drove on home. Once I got there my children were appalled talking about how the man had spoken/shouted at me. How I didn’t deserve to be spoken to like that. The adrenalin was flying but once they calmed down, I took the opportunity to use this scenario as a lesson.
I explained that the man was obviously feeling cross, unhappy and a little grumpy in himself that day. We listed all the things that could make someone feel like that. Then I suggested that it would be a lot easier if we could see how upset someone was already feeling before we spoke to them. We could take those things into account.
But we can’t see feelings so perhaps we could imagine them. We could imagine people who were cross or upset or even sad might have to carry those feelings around. We discussed how those feelings might feel and came to the conclusions it wouldn’t be nice to feel like that. To carry those feelings might be like carrying one of those big Lego building blocks. Maybe more blocks could be added if someone encountered more problems or challenges. Perhaps blocks could stack so high you couldn’t move around so good or see over them.
We then concluded that it would be awful to feel like that and that maybe people who had those feelings would think that they benefit from trying to get rid of those blocks. That maybe by shouting at others or being unkind that they would somehow give you one of their blocks and ease their own burden. Or maybe by having all those blocks they weren’t able to see or act properly.
But everyone has a choice. You can try and get rid of you blocks yourself in a positive manner and you can refuse to take someone’s block.
I explained that the day the driver had shouted he probably had a few blocks himself, but I was not prepared to take them off him. I did not want to feel bad. They were his blocks not mine. So, I did not argue, I ignored his hurtful words and reminded myself he had made a mistake. We all make mistakes, that’s ok, but its not ok to be given or take someone else’s block and that decision is entirely your own.
The theory went down a storm and the kids really related to it. They chose not to let others wind them up so much and walked away sometimes. They would yell “mam, he is trying to give me his block!”
Arguments and squabbles didn’t vanish, but this was just one of the strategies I used to reduce them. I had some success so I thought I would share it with you.
Let me know what you think, if you try it and how your family get on