Eventually, after all of us had calmed down, my very calm and reasonable husband called each child into our room individually to let them tell us their version of what had happened. It wasn't a huge thing, pretty typical sibling behavior. June and Mack were both outside playing separately with their own set of friends. And suddenly, June thought it might be hilariously funny to take Mack's bike and ride off with it. Mack is 7. He's the youngest. When his older sisters tell him things, he believes them. So when June told him she was riding away on his brand new bike forever, he believed her. Things escalated and we ended up with the two Tasmanian devils at the front door.
There was more crying and defending and lots of lecturing (because that's what I typically do in these situations), but about 75% of the way through June's lecture, it occurred to me that I wasn't really getting anywhere going in that direction.
So I changed gears, moved closer to her and told her a story...
I'm not sure that I had told her that story before yesterday. I'm not sure I've even thought about that story much before yesterday. But it came when I needed it, and I think it was more effective than the yelling and lecturing that happened before it. I reminded her that she came with helpfulness and compassion and kindness. That those things are so much a part of who she is that she doesn't have to work very hard to find them. Those things will bring a better result than the mischievous, impulsive things that kick up a lot of unnecessary dust. I'm not sure if she'll remember that story, but hopefully, the next time she feels the need to be mischievous or impulsive, she'll remember who she is and what she came with.
And hopefully the next time I get the impulse to give a long lecture, I'll remember who I am and what I came with.
You did what you knew how to do and when you knew better, you did better. - Maya Angelou