I have almost 7 yo twin dds. When we are not home or in the car, all is well. They play well with other kids, they are kind to each other and to me, we have fun together as a family, they're well mannered in any public space (to the extent that people comment on it), and they are bright and alive and interested in the world. When we're home (or the second the car doors close to go home) it is a different story. They are immediately at each other's throats teasing and being mean to each other with each word uttered, physically tormenting each other, and then hyper-sensitive to each other's actions. They become rude to me, quickly angered when they run up against the slightest boundary, and moved to hitting me to prove their anger. And it's only becoming worse. The consequence of this behavior in the car is I can't drive and we pull over, but it's taking us FOREVER to get anywhere. And there is the occasion where we have to be somewhere. At home the consequence is seperation in their own rooms, but it's not really much of a consequence for them. And I have nothing that is.
Today one of them accused the other of writing on her shirt (while she was wearing it). The writ-ee rips off the shirt and throws is on the floor. I pick up the shirt, see that there is nothing there, say nothing and put the shirt on the chair next to the shirtless one. She is furious with me now, picks up the shirt, hits me with it. I take the shirt (a favorite) and put it in the laundry (clothes that go in the laundry do not come back out until they're washed -- a rule instituted due to other dramas), dd hits me a couple times screaming that she has nothing else to wear. I send her to her room to calm down, she refuses and hits me a couple more times. As a result she doesn't get to go to her grandmother's swimming for the afternoon. She is sent to her room and sister goes with Dad. For the next hour she repeatedly comes out of her room to yell at me and is sent back. Finally I break, yell at her, and threaten that if she continues she will "lose toys." She, as is usual, continues, and I take toys out of her room that she gets back for civil behavior (if she makes through a day without hitting or name calling she gets things back). This is the only thing that changes her attitude but it's really useless because it's only in the moment, it has no lasting effect. She actually usually forgets about whatever was taken, even when it's something I think is a favorite (they're really not toy kids). Now she is pleasant for the rest of the afternoon. We talk, read, enjoy each other's company. The second her sister comes home after dinner they are instantaneously at each other and rotten again to me and their father.
This is just an example. It goes on all day at home. I am at such a loss with this. Advice is always "we just don't tolerate hitting/rude behavior/name calling in our house." But HOW do you not tolerate it? I can find nothing that gets across that this is not ok. Bribery works temporarily, punishment works temporarily, but it isn't an answer. I've read Siblings Without Rivalry, Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me, several postive discipline books, unconditional parenting, etc, and though I try, it doesn't seem to be implementable in our house. They are very intense girls and I put a lot of effort into this but it seems, at the moment, like it's snowballing into a disaster. I feel like a failure as a compassionate and guiding parent.
By the way, we just had a 9 day family vacation that was mostly wonderful and everyone got along. Probably because we were doing something almost every minute of every day. An activity level I can't keep up at home.
Words of wisdom PLEASE!