In our home with four 4 year-old children, there are a lot of arguments over toys and who said what that results in hurt feelings. This can be accompanied by crying or whining and is usually over something very minor. Recently, I started to stand between the arguing parties and belt out, “Let it Go” from Frozen. This usually causes them to smile despite themselves. Our kids have never actually seen Frozen (believe it or not) but, they know that song.
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The most recent time was when Xayden and Capri were arguing while building together with Magnatiles. It was a silly argument about who had more squares. I stood over the structure they were building in such a way that they could not continue building and began to sing loudly. Xayden continued to argue his points while looking annoyed that he could not reach his building. I continued to sing while asserting that I would sing all day until they apologized and ‘let it go.’
This went on for quite some time as Xayden and I can both be stubborn. Finally, Xayden realized that I was really not going to move or stop singing until they made up. So, he apologized followed by Capri and they began to work productively together.
The next day, we were going somewhere as a family and Greg and I were having a quiet disagreement. We used to be able to do this easily without the kids noticing because we kept our tones even. Not any more. Xayden picked up on it and pointedly asked, “Are you arguing?” We had to admit that we were.
He started to sing, “Let it Go,” and increased his volume as he sang until all of his siblings had joined in. We could not help but laugh when they all belted out the song. It is really hard to stay annoyed when four kids are serenading you. As a psychologist, I had many clients over the years who came in feeling distressed about their relationships because they had never witnessed their parents fight. Sometimes their parents divorced without ever arguing in front of them. When they had conflicts in their own relationships, it was alarming because they believed that conflict was abnormal. I believe it is healthy for children to see some conflict as long as it is not demeaning, violent or over the top. Kids will see that conflict happens and can be resolved. Then, when it’s over, they can “let it go.”