For two weeks, I’ve been driving around town with Nerf gun bullets on the outside of my windshield. I forget that they are there until people stare, point, pretend to shoot at me, and ultimately laugh. Other kids get a kick out of them in the car-line at school, particularly the high-school students.
Let’s back up a bit. My children have been fighting in the car recently. It drives me crazy. I’ve tried time outs, loss of privileges, pulling the car to the side of the road, strategically seating my children away from one another, and even positive reinforcement tactics. Somewhere between their close proximity to one other and a few sensory issues (mostly mine), that stuff just isn’t working for us.
“You’re breathing too loud!”
“You crossed the line onto my side of the seat!”
“Stop humming to the music.”
What ultimately ends the fighting is my mean-mommy-voice yelling “ENOUGH! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!”
Here’s the thing, I don’t like yelling, nor want to. I truly believe there is always a better option…but sometimes I just can’t find that solution in the parenting books.
So a few weeks ago when my youngest shot my windshield with a Nerf bullet in protest to my new rule of ‘No Eating in the Car’, I had an idea. I explained to my three children, that I would leave that Nerf bullet on the windshield if they didn’t fight on the way to school.
Guess what? Nobody fought. In fact, they laughed, were kind and complimentary to one another, and acted as if they were on the same team. The ride home from school that day was the same way. With dark clouds in the sky, they chatted for 30 minutes about what would happen to the Nerf bullet if they windshield wipers went on. Their laughter was contagious.
So the rules to our Nerf Bullet Game were established:
- Every day that you don’t fight, you may add a Nerf bullet to the car.
- Every time you disagree or complain about anything, we turn on those windshield wipers and a bullet is removed.
- You may not relocate somebody else’s bullet without their permission.
- A bullet though may be relocated or removed by mommy at any point.
Not only are my kids not fighting in the car, I’m enjoying listening to them interact and plot the destination of their next bullet.
I’m obviously not suggesting that everybody go put Nerf bullets on their windshield to keep their kids from fighting, but I am suggesting that sometimes we can’t find the answers in the parenting books. We need to stop feeling inadequate that great parenting tools aren’t clicking with our family.
Each family is uniquely designed and made up of specific personalities. Parenting is not one size fits all. What works for me, may not work for you, and that’s ok. I’m learning that sometimes an unconventional idea is exactly what my family needs to push through a tough phase to move on to the next.
Our family was struggling in the car and we needed to break that cycle of fighting because, only then, were my kids at a teachable place to address the deeper issues of respect and tolerance. This game will hopefully not be around in a month, because I’d prefer to drive around town not looking like the victim of a Nerf Attack, but it broke our cycle of fighting and yelling, and has allowed us to engage in more effective conversations about changing the way we treat each other.
So consider embracing that unconventional idea that just might click with your family. You may find your instincts are more effective with your children than anything you read, and that adding a dose of laughter to your area of greatest frustration, opens the door to joy where yelling once reigned.
AllisonHave you checked out our Intentional Parenting or All Things Kids board on Pinterest? I’d also love to invite you to receive future posts by the House of Hendrix below and join our Facebook community. If this post resonated with you, you are welcome to share it through the icons below.