Let’s say my son gets short with my daughter. He uses a crappy tone with her, he’s judgy, and tells her off for something. Now… a tendency of mine can be to protect her and to tell him off. To be short with him, and snappy. (to use a crappy tone really). Do you see the irony?
The only way this cycle gets broken is to meet the crappy tone and the judgement with patience and love. To lay down new tracks. To teach something new, to be something new. The secret here is to see his behavior for what it is…to stop judging him and read between the lines. Nobody acts in a “mean” way who is feeling good. If my son is acting like this, he isn’t at his best…something is up.
Also, there is no way to teach a new and better way of being by continuing to model an old (and decidedly opposite) way of being. Break the pattern. Meet the challenging behavior with love. Look for the need. Meet the need. Assume the best. Teach and model better ways. Slooooooow down and BREATHE.
Here are two versions of what it could look like:
“Hey, stop that. Stop it now. What gives you the right to talk to her like that? You can just as easy speak to her in a kind way. You don’t need to be a jerk. I expect more from you. You are the older one. You are supposed to be more mature… Gawd.”
– Hey, can I talk with you for a minute. (maybe we’d go find some privacy to talk) How are you doing? How are you feeling?
– Not good. She’s being annoying and won’t listen.
– You are frustrated with her.
– Ya! I told her not to touch X and she did.
– You want her to respect your stuff.
– Okay. I understand that. That makes sense. Can I give you a hug. (Hug) Let’s take a deep breath together. Is there anything else going on for you right now? Is there anything I could help you with?
– I’m tired of her. I need a break.
– Ah okay. I can help you with that. What kind of break were you thinking of?
– Can we do something without her?
– You and me?
– Sure, let’s plan something.
Then we could plan something. And we could also talk about how best to respond in the situation that just happened. My son would be feeling better because of the calm and connection…and the plan to get his need met. He would be open to discussion and learning how to respond when his sister did something he didn’t like.