The main rule in our house always has been and always will be The Golden Rule. Every other rule we have branches from that. When the kids are being rude to one another, the first question I always ask is, "Are you treating him/her the way you want to be treated?" When someone is mean to me, I say, "Excuse me, but is there a reason you're being mean to me?" I'm all for letting kids feel anger, don't get me wrong. I just think that anger can be expressed in civil ways. I have one child who is emotionally deficient (I think he's somewhere around 7 emotionally. He still sees a lot of things in black/white that most 10.9-year-olds would see in various shades of gray and certainly can't handle emotions appropriately) and one child who is emotionally mature but who is still 8 and likes to pick on her brother now and then.
Naturally, this leads to name-calling and put-downs. Boo's favorite put-down is 'stupid.' If she doesn't like it/you, it/you will be 'stupid.' Doodlebug is more inventive, but his favorite word is 'butt.' As in, "Stop being a butt!" There are definitely worse terms they could use - I've heard them use them - but I don't like it when they make other people feel bad, especially when it's their sibling. SO... as of yesterday, we have implemented the Put-Up Plan. I, too, will be participating, though it means something slightly different for Mama. The idea is that if you put someone down or make them feel bad, you have to come back and say three nice things about them to make up for it. Will it work? Oh, I don't know. It's as good idea as any I've ever had. But they tried it. They were starting to fight and Boo called Doodlebug stupid, and then she realized that she had to put him UP instead of DOWN. After she got done telling him he was kind, creative, and funny, they both started giggling. Fight averted. Apparently Doodlebug then turned around and said three nice things about Boo just because he could. So it's a good start.
This is my other attempt at regaining some sort of control over the downward spiral. This is the Respect Jar. It's nothing fancy... Pinterest isn't going to go nuts over this one. But the idea is solid. When someone does something respectful, you catch them at it by putting a poker chip in the jar. Last night the first four poker chips went in - Boo stacked up Doodlebug's library books and took them to him rather than yelling at him to come get his books off the table; Doodlebug voluntarily wiped down the toilet seat AND FLUSHED; I didn't have to get up and separate the kids during shower time; and Doodlebug caught a wasp that was flying around Boo's room and took it outside for her. Little things. Poker chips. My hope is that this will help with anger management (just like the Put-Up Plan) as well as some of the respect issues.
Will these be life-changing activities? I doubt it. Will they help the kids return to a calmer frame of mind? I bloody hope so.