Are your kids constant bickering driving you nuts?
Maybe summer boredom has set in because my kids have been at each other’s throats in recent weeks. The constant bickering, tattle-telling, and arguing have been driving me up a wall. So much so I have resorted to hiding out in my bedroom. I often wondered how I could go from missing them every second I am away, to a level of frustration, exhaustion and raised voice that I never even knew existed?
What had changed? Was this just a phase like everyone was telling me? I had a hard time believing that this would just pass. After several weekends alone with them, breaking up silly squabbles and spending the whole time yelling and frustrated, I decided I needed to do a bit of research.
Get off the computer and your phone!
This is huge. I found that I was spending more time then I realized behind a screen. This was resulting in my kids feeling less paid attention to and acting out more. I will admit that going on the computer was my escapism. It was my way of avoiding having to deal with the fighting and bickering. Once I got off the computer and put don the phone my kids behavior improved.
Try whenever possible to spend one on one time with each child
It seemed that most of my children’s behavior was motivated by trying to get attention. This was something I remember seeing Kate from Jon and Kate Plus 8 do (Yes, prior to all the drama she had amazing mom insight) She would organize a special day where they would spend it with only one child, doing something they choose. This creates a deeper bond between you and your child and helps you to learn more about them as an individual. Plus they feel special and attended to and don’t need to fight for attention from you.
Do not referee
My sister-in-law gave us this valuable piece of advice about 4 years ago and she was right on the money. Trying to determine who started what, who was mean to who and who is at fault between two warring siblings will drive you bonkers. “Fighting is an act of cooperation,” according to renowned parenting expert, Dr. Kevin Lehman, so they are both at fault when they fight. Once I made it clear that the blame would be shared, the fighting lessened.
Make clear the consequences of misbehavior
Part of my problem was I was spending so much time trying to figure out who caused the last fight and who instigated the next one that I was to flustered to even set an appropriate consequence. I was maddening and dizzying. Once I sat both kids down first thing in the morning and stated in plain terms. Do not excuse anyone’s actions including your own, if you do this then this will happen
Outline what respect is and how it should be show to each family member
Observing my children talk to each other disrespectfully was unnerving enough but once it started to spill over into backtalk and dis respect for myself and other adult that is when I knew something had to be done. Now the moment I hear a snotty disrespectful tone I pull the child aside and explain specifically why that talk is not acceptable behavior, how it makes the person feel and how they would feel if it we’re them. Then it is imperative they apologize to the individual. I explain that they do not have to agree with the person but they must still speak to them respectfully.
Now if only some adults could learn that. Maybe they need a time out!
Check out these books by Dr. Kevin Lehman