Tired of time outs and similar punishments that just haven't been cutting it, I finally remembered the stories that Bret used to tell about what his mother did with his brother and sister. So I decided to try it: when two of them just can't seem to get along, they have to stand "nose-to-nose." That's right. Stand with their noses touching the person that they can't stand at the the moment. I set the timer for one minute. And if they still can't get along, I increase it to two minutes. And so far I've only had to go as many as three minutes one time. Usually though, one or two minutes does the trick, and I don't get much more fighting. From that pair. For that day. But hey, that's something, right?!
The other day, it was Micah and Josiah going at it. I don't remember what it was that they had eaten last, but for their rather sensitve noses, the smell of each other's breath was more than they could handle. They both started gagging and yelling about how much the other's breath stunk. So thinking that might be punishment enough, I stopped the timer early. But they continued to fight. Until I was ready to put them nose-to-nose again, not caring if they puked all over each other. Maybe that would work. I made sure they were in the kitchen where it could be mopped up easily (no, I don't know why I didn't think to put them outside!), and set the timer. They gagged and cried and gagged some more...but we made it through the two minutes with no actual puke. And hallelujah, we got a break in the fighting!
Today it was Conner and Micah fighting. We were in the Mr. Ron and Mrs. Debbie's swimming pool at the time, so I made them get out and stand right in front of where Ron, Debbie and I were sitting and talking. Micah was in tears, and Conner was close. But my sweet friends and I couldn't help but laugh. And then we saw Josiah in the background, clearly enjoying the show, and there was no more hiding our laughter. Which in turn made Micah and Conner end up laughing. And when the timer went off, somehow all of the anger had been completely replaced with laughter and Conner and Micah not only stopped fighting but began to play together nicely. It was beautiful.
And though I know better than to expect it to work that way every time, it did give me the important reminder that laughter is often the best medicine. And if it takes standing nose-to-nose to make them realize how silly they're acting, ok. I'll do it. And I'll try to make them laugh about it. And maybe - at least sometimes - one minute will stop the fighting and at least temporarily heal us with laughter. It's worth a shot, isn't it?!
(I didn't quite catch the full scene, you can't see Joey's michievious little smile, and Conner isn't crying anymore, but you get the idea!)