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Facilitating fights

The scene this morning as I worked through and issue between Will and Mack. Ruby is very sensitive to Will's feelings and frequently exists gently with him when she senses his frustrations. I think she was helpful this morning. Also, notice Will's mouth. This has become a stimming action when he is upset or processing.

Friday nights are video game nights for Leigh, Mack, and Will. Mack and Will typically play Starcraft together. Mack prefers to play cooperative so there aren't hurt feelings over winning/losing. Will still likes competition, so he sometimes convinces Mack to do direct strike. While we have worked hard about everyone's attitudes when they win or lose, they are still kids and struggle with it sometimes. So, last night, there was an upset. Mack beat Will in the competitive game. Badly apparently. Will didn't take this well. I had both go to bed to discuss today because they needed sleep and time to process.

After breakfast, I engaged them in reflexive listening with each other to understand the issues. Reflexive listening is a method Leigh and I learned in pre-marital counseling that has served us well and we have transferred to the kids. I had Mack start by sharing the events and his feelings about them. Will listened then acknowledged Mack's experience and feelings. Then it was Will's turn to share. Mack expressed that his goal had been to reach level 4 not to beat Will. He had used tactics that Will later described as trickery. Will then shared that he wasn't upset that Mack had won, but that he was upset Mack had used the guys Will couldn't see which meant he didn't have defense against them thus lost.

Throughout the conversation, both Will and Mack expressed that they didn't want to win and beat their siblings. Will intentionally chose characters that he wasn't as proficient at so that he wouldn't beat Mack right away. Mack said he chose his best guys to achieve level 4 not to beat Will. I commended them both for loving one another so much that they didn't want to destroy the other and make him feel badly. This is a parenting goal that I have had since Rory was born. I wanted my kids to play kindly with one another and be good winners and losers who could be proud of their siblings for besting them and could be gracious about winning as well. From the conversation this morning, I feel I have been successful in this endeavor!

One goal of reflexive listening is that each participant learns what the other's struggle was and listens to validate the other rather than to respond about themselves. The other goal is that both (or more) parties get to agree on a solution to move forward. I helped suggest a solution in this case and they modified it then agreed. Every other game night will have two cooperative games where they can work together and improve their weaker areas against the computer. The other weeks, they will do two direct strikes in which they each get to be their best characters giving the other the chance to improve his weaker characters. This way they each get a turn to win and they each get a turn to practice. Hopefully, this will actually work in practice not just in theory!

Hearing how they spoke about protecting each other's feelings had me weeping with pride!

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