When Siblings Fight: A Bouncer, A Referee and a Therapist Have the Answers

“What do a bar bouncer, kindergarten teacher, hockey referee, marriage and family therapist, and police officer all have in common? They know how to break up a fight… But would their techniques work on my brawling twins? E. J. Sullivan, The New York Times, Nov./21

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Janik Söllner

Excerpt: Kids Won’t Stop Fighting? A Bouncer, a Therapist and a Referee Have Advice, By Emily J. Sullivan 11/2021

“I work from home, like countless professionals around the world. Apparently even Jimmy Fallon works from home now. Lately, when I scroll through my Twitter feed, I see memes and rants from frazzled parents new to the work-from-home hustle. Shouting siblings saturate the backgrounds of video posts, and wide-eyed parents stare helplessly into the lens.

Even before the pandemic had confined us to our homes, parents were seeking help from therapists and scanning parenting blogs for the answer to an age-old question: How do I get my kids to stop fighting?

My twin 5-year-olds, Penny and Layla, are sweet as pie but hell raisers when provoked. They clutch each other lovingly one minute and curse each other the next. Hell hath no fury like a sibling scorned.

As the mediator for mini quarreling versions of myself, I want to pull out my hair by the fistful. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation. During other crises, I’ve sent us all to separate rooms, so I could hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé. At this point, I’d try just about anything.

Then it occurred to me — maybe I should turn to the pros.

Chris Harrod worked at pubs and nightclubs in Manchester, England, as a bar bouncer, or doorman as the Brits call it, for 11 years. According to Harrod, the gritty night stops were often run behind the scenes by gangsters and dark money…’The trick is using minimum force and maximum effort,’ Harrod told me when I asked how to stop a fight before it starts… Steve Stevens, retired referee in chief for the U.S.A. Hockey Pacific District…’Before you skate in to break up a fight, you look ‘em over. If it’s a lopsided fight, you break it up,’ Stevens explained when I asked how he handled on-ice altercations.

‘If it’s a willing fight, you let ‘em fight,’ he continued… Let ‘em fight. I had to do some mental bargaining to wrap my head around this…I tracked down a veteran kindergarten teacher to find out her secret to coaxing good behavior.

Chriss Thompson has been teaching kindergarten for 18 years at Roynon Elementary School in La Verne, Calif. ‘I teach them that when someone is doing something they don’t like, to tell them in a nice firm voice, ‘Stop it, I don’t like that,’ Thompson explained.

This method sounded simple enough, and I love the concept of teaching my girls to be assertive and vocal, and to set boundaries. These are life lessons beneficial to everyone, especially budding young women.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. A  Bouncer has advice for  parents.
  2. A referee also had some sound advice to stop kids from fighting.
  3. These conflict resolution experts know how to stop fights before and after they start.
  4. But would their techniques work on my brawling twins?
  5. Apparently even Jimmy Fallon works from home now.
  6. Shouting siblings saturate the backgrounds of video posts.
  7. Even before the pandemic had confined us to our homes, parents were seeking help from therapists.
  8. My twin 5-year-olds, Penny and Layla, are sweet but hell raisers when provoked.
  9. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation.
  10. I like to hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

As the mediator for mini quarreling versions of myself, I want to pull out my hair by the fistful. Sometimes, I channel my inner yogi and lead an impromptu group meditation. During other crises, I’ve sent us all to separate rooms, so I could hide from the bickering and guzzle rosé. At this point, I’d try just about anything.

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “The trick is using minimum force and maximum effort. “Even the roughest, toughest lads would use the same approach, and much of what they did was just menace. You’d look at ‘em and think there’s no way I want to fight you.”
  2. “Before you skate in to break up a fight, you look ‘em over. If it’s a lopsided fight, you break it up.If it’s a willing fight, you let ‘em fight. Keep watch but don’t jump into the fray until one of ‘em grabs a hold of the other or they go down. You do not get in the fight — that’s the fastest way to get knocked out.”
  3. “Maintain composure — it’s easy to get rattled when you’re with people who are arguing. You want to soften the anger of both parties. Validate each person. Point out what the two sides have in common so they can stop feeling like they are on opposing teams and can get on the same team.”
  4. “Have one stay in the house, one step outside. Get them far away from each other and out of each other’s eyesight. If they both live there, we can’t tell either of the parties to leave; we try to come to a resolution.”
  5. “I teach them that when someone is doing something they don’t like, to tell them in a nice firm voice, ‘Stop it, I don’t like that’.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. When you were young did you fight your siblings?
  2. How did your parents stop the fights?
  3. If you are a parent, do your kids fight? How do you stop them from fighting?
  4. According to Chris Harrod, what is the trick to stopping a fight?
  5. What happened when the mom tried the “Manchester” bar bouncer approach?
  6. What was the outcome when the mom used the “Hockey” referee advice with her kids?
  7. According to the author of this article when did the “L.A.P.D.”  method worked the best?
  8. When did the author’s twins behave nicely? Why do you think they did this?
  9. List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY