Ho’oponpono was always in the family. In my house growing up, we called it Family Meeting. My father was the Haku, the mediator. If we, as a family, were out of alignment this was our time for Ho’oponopono.
A time to come together. Gain more understanding. Learn about how other people are feeling. And get back to harmony with one another.
Oftentimes, children are not offered the opportunity to share how they’re feeling. They need a message “it’s OK to share”.
In our household, we have a practice to return to harmony when a conflict occurs. Just like the old days, I gather the kids together. Whoever was involved, we set an intention for coming together. Prayer is one of the best ways to do that. Then I allow each of them to share what they experienced and how it made them feel.
It might sound something like this, “Kala called me stupid,” or “La’au bumped into my lego project on purpose and didn’t say sorry,”
If you’re not the one speaking, you’re not allowed to talk. No interrupting. No making faces. No noises. You get the idea, right? Otherwise, I let them know that if they interrupt in any way, they will lose your turn to share. Kids really don’t want to lose the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
This allows the Speaker to be heard and get to focus on sharing their experience. The same goes for everyone else. Each person gets a chance to speak and share how it made them feel.
Once everybody had been able to share, I follow up with questions like, “Oh, well, how would you like it if that happened to you?”
Normally I get a, “I wouldn’t like it very much.” Or something like this.
My job as Haku, mediator, is to support in making sure there is understanding. Making sure everyone is heard, that what was felt is shared and asking the kids to say sorry.
Sometimes there’s a mean tone. Or an angry word. No matter what it looks like, it doesn’t feel good.
Here is the key ingredient to shifting the energy – I ask them to share one thing they absolutely love about that other person.
It’s been so sweet. I’ve had one child tell another, “You are a really amazing artist”. Suddenly, the one who is scowling gets a warm fuzzy. You can literally see it like creep up into her face. Pretty soon she has a smile and she’ll say back to him, “I really love it when you play with me outside when I want someone to play with.”
Then I say, “Oh that’s so nice”, and you can see the other child get all happy at being acknowledged for something positive.
The energy just shifted 100%. I’m like, “All right. Are you guys ready to go play again? All right. Let’s go play,” and then everybody moves on from there. What a gift!
I typically give them five minutes to be alone in the room to talk it over. The goal is to come to a consensus of what really happened.
I usually find that they don’t want to be locked in the room together. They want to be done with the process and someone will eventually share with me that they weren’t telling the whole truth.
It starts with one person being willing to share with me what really happened. Once their stories all match we can finish the Ho’oponopono practice outlined above.
This is really good because now it’s not even me facilitating or mediating. The kids are working it out on their own.That’s a really powerful tool for children going out into the world. We know they’re going to meet challenges and obstacles and disharmony along the way. To be able to handle it on their own is a gift.
We have a Ho’opono bank to reward pono actions. Being a good listener or obeying the first time or a car ride with no drama – whoo hoo!! – these are all moments I want to celebrate. Helping each other, being responsible, making school lunch …all add up to deposits in the pono bank.
Anytime the kids do something in service, in kindness towards one another or act in a way that allows the family to interact smoothly, I want to reward them for it.
It can be as simple as nickels or dimes. When they have a certain amount in the Ho’opono bank, then we get to go out and do something fun. Shaved ice. Play arcade games. Go to the climbing wall. Something fun altogether. It’s really great because they have something to work towards.
I find that in the end, they help each other make good choices because cashing in at the Pono bank is something everyone gets to enjoy.
I’m not the perfect parent but I do have four kids so I know if we’re not all working together then everything falls apart.
Children are also a great mirror for what the parents have going on. If we can create a foundation between Justin and I of understanding and alignment, then mom and dad aren’t stressed out. Kids aren’t stressed out. Our whole household can just be a happier place to be in.
Share them below so we can all learn to keep the balance, the harmony, and the Aloha in our households.
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