There were days that despite my best attempts to teach my 2 boys to get along, they just did not get along.
Somewhere in my parenting journey (long before the internet and these helpful blog sites), I was desperate to get my hands on anything to help me get my 2 boys, 3 years and 8 months apart, to exist in harmony. Somewhere in a book or magazine I read an idea. I wish I could find out where I read it because I would love to hug this mom and buy her Starbucks every week for as long as I live.
She described challenging your children in a Lesson in Cooperation. Sounded too simple to work but here is the gist. When your children are not getting along, ask them if they want a challenge. Here is the challenge, they do a chore/job task TOGETHER. That’s it. If they complete this chore, and do not complain and cooperate, they the have learned a lesson. If they do the job and complain or argue or forget to cooperate, then…….they do another…….and another…….and another, until they learn a lesson in cooperation.
The first time I attempted Lessons in Cooperation, these two little testosterone filled humans that came from my loin loved it. I had presented them with a challenge and they accepted it like it was a game. Task given, done with a smile and BAM! We had learned the lesson. Before the day was over we were having our second Lesson in Cooperation and this one was not met with as much zeal as the previous one. That is a day I will never forget, it was the first day that my entire house was cleaned and I did not lift a finger. Three hours later, the little boys learned how to cooperate.
Unfortunately, that was not the last of our challenges in our home. If you ask my now 20 and 17 year olds if they want a Lesson in Cooperation, they may tremble in fear, and tell you they have learned their lesson. Even now as they both tower over me with their 6 ft. plus frames, I remind them that I am still the mom and can enforce the lessons. I may have even threatened to use the now popular get along shirt (where both children fit in a shirt and work together on a challenge) in recent days on college breaks to see if they can remember how to get along.
Learning this Lesson in Cooperation goes far beyond these two little guys getting along. It has prepared them for other “challenges” in life. Life presents itself with other opportunities to get along with others. Lessons in Cooperation have prepared my boys for college roommates, for jobs, for relationships, for conflict, for dealing different types of people and for being part of something bigger than themselves. When faced with challenges, my hope is that they can remember the lessons and cooperate.
If then need a reminder, they can always come home, I’ve got a house they can clean.