In our large family, my children discovered how to interact with each other, without my constant intervention. They all aquired wonderful people skills because they lived in a house with ten other very different personalities who all shared one full bathroom. Just imagine the tact it required to squeeze any sink and mirror time in the bathroom if you happened to have five or six older sisters!
Some interpersonal techniques were learned through the old trial and error method. I did not tolerate fighting or yelling among my children, so each child had to figure out which approach gained co-operation from another sibling. I was proud of their negotiating skills.
For example, one evening when Mark was seven and his brother Joseph was two, Mark sat on the floor and reached over the edge of the tub to play with his little brother who was in bubbly, warm water.
Mark turned to me and asked, "Want to know how to get a two-old to do what you want him to do?
I smiled in anticipation and nodded.
"Watch this", Mark commanded.
He asked Joseph, "Joseph, do you want the orange ball or the blue boat?"
Joseph chose the blue boat.
Hardly taking a breath, Mark asked his little brother the very same question but this time he changed the word order of his request, "Joseph, do you want the blue boat or the orange ball?"
Joseph dropped the boat and reached for the ball.
Mark turned around with a proud little smile on his face, looked at me and said, "A two-year old always choose the last thing that you say!"