These are my boys (Chen and Yonatan). Don’t they seem full of kindness and brotherly love?

Well…..yes, there are those lovey -dovey brotherly moments (and boy do I cherish those!) AND there are moments of intense fighting and wrestling- which all falls into the range of normal…MOST of the time.

Just last week my husband and I realized that it had gone beyond the ‘normal’ boys stuff and became much too aggressive.  Chen, my 8 year old,  doesn’t quite seem to know when he has gone too far and can end up causing more injury than we find acceptable.

So how did we handle it?

We had a family meeting.

In the meeting we explained that the aggressive behavior and extreme language had gone way too far and we wanted to create a way to help our family regain a sense of respect and harmony.  We decided to make a family chart.  Each day that each one of them did not do any name calling or fighting, he or she would get an ‘x’.  After they, as a collective whole,  reached 15 x’s, we would have a family movie night- treats, surprises the works!

We were excited about this and liked the idea of making it a non-competitive, joint effort (meaning we needed a total of 15 x’s so it was in everyone’s best interest that each person succeeded and not in their best interest to provoke each other.)

Then Chen  looked at us and said  “I can’t do it.  It won’t work for me”.

We all know he has challenges that the others don’t and he was honestly communicating that this would not work for him- his challenges in managing his emotions ran deeper than a chart.

Each day he had an incident where he called someone a name and I could see he was trying- but managing his emotions is hard for him.

I truly wanted him to succeed.  I wanted him to see he could do it.  I wanted him to feel confidence and work as a team, otherwise he would give up the whole thing and then we were back to where we started.

How can I help him to succeed?

I had a conversation with him explaining that I see this is hard for him- that we are working to help him BEYOND the chart (via cranial sacral, acupuncture, omega bach remedies, etc.) and I want to help him make this work for him.

So, I made it more ‘reachable’.  I decided to give each person a chance for 2 ‘screw ups’.  Going from constant name calling to no name calling was not quite reachable and I was hoping this would make the difference (although certain names were totally off limits, and yes, I had to specify each and every one).

I knew that if I helped Chen experience success he would develop the confidence he needs to continue to work on himself and make more changes.

Success builds confidence and confidence builds more success.

And yes, he did it!  We reached 15 x’s and last night was movie night (‘Diary of a Whimpy Kid’,  in case you are wondering).  They were all very proud of themselves and we are ALL enjoying a more peaceful family experiece.

How can you help your child have more experiences of success (so he can build confidence and therefore more success)?

1. Make your goals ‘reachable’.  Sometimes the goals we have for our children are too lofty and we set our kids up to fail.  Break down goals into more incremental steps.  For example if you are focusing on toilet training then you can break up the steps to be more ‘reachable’, like; willing to go near the toilet, willing to sit on the toilet with pants up, sitting on the toilet with pants down, etc.  If your goal is having a back and forth conversation then you can break up the skills to be more reachable, like ;answering choice questions with visual cues, answering choice questions without visual cues, answering open-ended questions, etc.
2. Celebrate each step along the way.  This is the key in helping your child experience success, building confidence which will lead to more success.  For my son, it may be “Nice Work- you called people names only twice today- you are on your way!”


Creating more reachable goals is crucial in your child develop the feelings of confidence he needs to succeed.  The goal that will have the most lasting impact is your child’s experience of being successful versus the actual goal achieved.


And ,as always, this is a lesson to be learned for ourselves as well 😉


I would love to know what you are taking away from this article- please post your comments below!