When my second brother-in-law married my sister, he named them “Team *their last name*”. I admired this mindset because I believe fostering a team spirit is important for family cohesiveness. I loved being a part of a team when I was younger… well, it was more of a marching band than a team, but it’s kind of the same thing.
We respect team members and don’t put them down.
One of the few hard and fast rules in our house is that they can’t hit or call each other names. Not to be hurtful, anyway. We advocate for being respectful to everyone, all of the time (meaning we remind them all of the time to be respectful, because they can remember the names of every Pokémon ever invented, but they can’t remember to say “please” or “thank you”).
Experienced members teach the Newbies:
Every “big” child has complained that the younger sibling is “copying me”. In response, I explain that Imitation is the highest form of flattery:
“Your little brother loves you. He thinks you are big and strong and smart, and he wants to be just like you! He thinks you are wonderful, and he wants to be around you. Teach him how to be big like you. Teach him how to love and how to play. Do you remember how cool you used to think your big brother was? No? Well, I love you very very much, and your little brother does too.”
I am constantly amazed at how this talk immediately changes attitudes!
We celebrate each other’s success.
My older daughter’s orchestra received a mediocre rating in the state’s evaluation. She was disappointed that they didn’t get the highest marks, but she thought the rating was fair. The following week, her younger sister’s band was judged and received the highest marks possible (something that hadn’t been achieved in her school in about 10 years). My husband and I were gratified to overhear the older sister heartedly congratulating her younger sister.
Oh, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but after I’m done doing that, they all do their chores.
We have a common goal.
My husband and I have long-term goals, but our family’s goals usually revolve around keeping me just happy enough to not cancel movie night. The reward for the week well-done is a family movie with a fun dinner and dessert. We’ve had to exclude a problem child on occasion (or cancel the cookies), but for the most part, this is a great way to have a shared experience with the kids (or force 80’s movies on them, you know – whatever). Other simple goals we make together (completing a challenging hike, etc.) are almost always rewarded with a feeling of togetherness; of knowing that we are there for each other.
Us vs. Them mentality.
We are fortunate enough that we can depend on our family to be there for us, and that we visit each other regularly. Surrounding ourselves with people that love and accept us is great for self-esteem. I also like that my kids and their cousins are best friends; it gives me hope that other kids will have less peer power over them. It has also helped the kids with situations at school (where the teacher or some students have different priorities and/or mindsets) to know that they are not alone in their own opinions.
As coach, I mean mom, I can’t be afraid to call the kids out when they don’t perform up to my expectations. I try to re-train, but mostly I just re-lecture (which is less effective, but faster and easier). We tell the kids not to be afraid to fix their mistakes; we all make them. I allow the kids to correct me when I’m wrong (as long as it’s done respectfully), and I encourage them to not be afraid to speak up when they think they have a better idea. Sometimes, I even allow the kids to make “deals” with me; in the spirit of negotiation and compromise. It’s always fun to watch eyebrows climb up the forehead when I say things like, “If you have something to say, just say it! I am a reasonable person!”.
Respect, shared experience , and common goals are team values that families need.