Kids calling each other names is definitely a behavior they control. Although you cannot control the words your kids choose to use, you can set it up so they are encouraged to use self-control. Here are four possible ways to do that:
- During a family meeting, discuss the problem with name calling and brainstorm ideas for solving it. Write down all the ideas and then circle the ones that meet everyone’s needs. Let the kids choose which idea to try first. Revisit how it’s going at next week’s family meeting.
- Catch your kids being good. For example, if they haven’t called each other any names for the past hour, comment “I appreciate how you’ve avoided any name calling for the past hour.” This will reinforce the behavior you want.
- Another possibility is to respond to name calling by having the child go to his room and write about it – what happened, what other options he could have chosen besides name calling, what he will do differently next time and what type of amends he thinks he should make. When he’s done writing, discuss it.
- Put 20 quarters in a container for each boy and place the container in a central location like the kitchen. Tell them that you’ll be taking a quarter out of their bucket each time you hear them name calling. Let them know that at the end of 3 weeks (or whatever time frame you want) that they can keep the remaining quarters. Alternatively, you could promise them a trip to somewhere like Dairy Queen at the end of three weeks where they can spend their remaining quarters on a treat.