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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can't deal with my two kids fighting anymore. They ruin everything. We've had a big day planned today to go cut down our own christmas tree, take a sleigh ride, do the whole christmas thing.

My 4.5yo has just been a terror all morning - he's rude, he's hitting, he's spitting. I very calmly explained to him that I didn't to spend my day like this, and if he couldn't be nice, he would have to stay at home with Daddy. He kept saying okay, okay, and then of course 15 minutes later slugs ds1.

So now, our whole family day is ruined. There is not a single other weekend before christmas that we can go. My mom and sister are coming over tomorrow night for the tree trimming party.

I don't know what to do. Stay true to my word and make him stay home, thus ruining the entire day, or take him with us, making what I say meaningless, and risk dealing with this crap all day.

I wasn't trying to threaten him. I was trying to explain that no one can enjoy the day if he is being rude and disrespectful. But now I'm stuck.
 

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It sounds like this isn't a good day for him to go out with the family. Its hard to give up the family Christmas outing that you planned
I would be sad about that, too. He doesn't sound up to the outing, though.

But it could be some great bonding time for you and the older one. Your older one probably needs a break, too.
 

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I would talk with him and see how he is, if he is able to rein himself in I think its ok to say "I think I would like to give you one more chance to enjoy this special day, but here is what you need to be able to do, do you think you can?" If the answer is no he can't based either on his own answer or just on his behavior, than I'm sorry I'd cancel the trip for the day, or go get the tree without the sleigh ride with the 7 year old. Is there anything you can do though to make it more possible for him to behave? Has he eaten? Is there any other trigger that you can identify and limit? Can you each be one on one with each boy?

I don't think you MUST follow through with every consequence but I do think you have to address it if you don't...why you aren't going to enforce it and what has to happen for you to change your mind.

I'd also make sure that you make the outing as easy and with as great a chance of success as possible, so that might mean curtailing some of your expectations for the day.
 

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It's important to me to be consistent with promises. If I ask my daughter to do something, and include an ultimatim, I follow-through. But I think carefully about the ultimatim before I say it. Sometimes thats difficult when you're parenting "in the moment", and you have to make split decisions quickly.

As another poster says, it does sound like he probably is not up to the outing.

Hope it works out for you.
 

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My advice is not my own, it comes from a book my mom bought titled "Have A New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. He says "If your child is trying to draw you into a power struggle, the solution is simple: Don't get drawn in!" "The key question is, who's the parent - you or your child?" "Never threaten, unless you are going to follow through!"

It isn't easy to do, I've been there and my son is only 3 1/2, but have your son stay home with his daddy. Stand firm on this, otherwise it's going to be repeated and repeated, and it will get worse as he gets older.

And don't feel your family day will be ruined, it only will be if you keep saying it will be. Give yourself some positive boosting, and encourage the rest of the family as well.

My mom is very enthusiastic about this book, she cares for my children while I work [single mom sole support] and says she doesn't need to raise her voice, threaten, count, or anything else and the kids are wonderful!
 

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I agree, you must always follow through, both with promises of good things and discipline. Your child gleans love and security from your caring enough to uphold rules and expectations, in that he will see you put energy into paying that sort of attention to his behavior. Kids do crave boundaries, and they will push them until you define them very clearly. It is ok to directly teach and clearly expect polite, respectful behavior of your children, particularly in their treatment of their family members. It is also ok to deliver logical consequences when they do not do this.

I am a mother of 3, 2 teens and an 8 year old. My 2 eldest fought horribly until about 3 years ago (it does get better hon!). I did not let their behavior control our household or my day. I made it clear, time and time again hpw I exected them to handle conflict until it sunk in, that their CHOSING to act otherwise got them nowhere. It was hard to follow thru on the "getting nowhere part" (not taking them on outings, taking away priviledges, taking my personal attention away from them while they went to their rooms, etc) but it DID sink in. Why should your children be rewarded with an xmas outing if they are being nasty to each other? The younger one needs time to be at home and pay the logical consequences of his actions, namely, being separated from a fun family outing. Sounds harsh but it is very effective and gives that needed separation and cooloff time.
Also beats the hell out of going out all angry and stressed, waiting for them to misbehave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The problem is that nothing seems to sink in with my 4yo. He is completely different than my older son. He does. not. listen. At all. When he is in a mood, he is not listening to anything. He will hit, be rude, be defiant, and nothing you say or do changes it. Other than punishment.

And that's where I have hit a wall. We have been pretty successful with not having to use punishments with my older son. Being clear about our expectations, discussing the truly natural consequences of his actions - if he doesn't put his shoes on, we can't leave, and therefore miss the birthday party - those kinds of things.

But now with two, I can't do that. We have had an issue where we all agree on a project we are going to do, and I promise that we are going to the store to get the supplies. Then, when I get ready to leave, ds2 is in a mood and absolutely refuses to come with us - get up off the floor, put his shoes on, etc. But I can't not go to the store, because I promised ds1. And I can't leave ds2 at home alone. So where does that leave me?
 

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I have two kids also, and when one is behaving inappropriately and I can't offer an appropriate consequence to the frustrating one without "punishing" the currently-blameless one, I try to offer some kind of positive consequence (usually just positive attention from me, sometimes the opportunity to make simple choices for all of us) for only the currently-behaving-well kid to reinforce that behavior. The misbehaving one almost never fails to notice this, and, yes, it upsets them, and yes, I'm OK with them getting upset. I then explain the obvious -- people, including mama, want to help you more when you don't make their lives harder.

I also think in the situation you described, leaving the 4-year-old with his dad and having a more pleasant outing with the 7-year-old is completely appropriate. Yes, the 4-year-old will get upset, but it's not our job as parents to always keep them in a contented state. In fact, I think trying to always keep them content is doing them a great disservice, because they need to learn how to deal appropriately with all kinds of emotions, and they need to learn that actions do have consequences. I don't mean you need to punish him "for his own good," or set him up for disappointment deliberately, but it's very suitable to remove or exclude him from situations in which he can't or is unwilling to act appropriately.
 

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We have these episodes too, where the younger one ruins the fun for the rest of the family by refusing to cooperate. They are fewer and further between now that he is older, but still occasionally happen.

I have found that being tired or hungry makes him completely unreasonable and uncooperative. I also notice that he gets very tired of feeling rushed, and very tired of feeling like he is dragged around a lot. (And truly, he spends a lot of time having to ride along when we drive big bro. to activities and such.)

So, my first approach, when he tries these tactics, is to slow everything down. I have to tell myself thats its okay to stop and be gentle, and that its better to fall behind schedule than to have the whole schedule wrecked. So if we are all ready to walk out the door, with coats and shoes, etc... and little guy sits down on the floor and refuses to move his body, then I send Daddy and DS#1 to another room, or outside to wait, and I go sit down quietly next to Little Guy. (Or maybe I leave the room and Daddy stays, depending on who is the most relaxed at the moment - but it is important to create a scenerio where he is getting 1:1.) We sit quietly and I concentrate on releasing my own tension. I remind DS that nobody is going to make him do anything. I offer a snack with some protein in it. I empathize with his feelings, and I listen to his issues. After a reasonable amount of time, I offer a choice of some sort that relates to leaving the house.

It doesn't always work. But often it does. Another thing I do is to ask him if there is anything we can do to help him want to participate. Sometimes he'll ask if we can pick up a soft pretzle for him, or if I will sit in the backseat with him -- or some trivial gesture that makes him feel more "taken into consideration." And I think that is the root of the problem actually -- that he feels bustled around too much.
 

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well....overall, i believe you should do what you say. however, i'm also fond of second chances and extending grace sometimes. you know your son best so follow through if needed. in similar situations in my house though, we have been able to talk about the dilemma & learn from it. my son is 4 and 9 months and can be a real stinker sometimes. i usually follow through a lot because he needs to know i'm serious. however, my husband and i will also look at each individual case and are open to changing our mind and extending a second chance sometimes. it hasn't backfired on us yet, but instead, i believe it helps soften my son's aggressive personality. hth.
 

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It sounds like you could use some time of positive interaction with your son. Try catching him doing something good... anything, and praising him for it. Spend some one on one time with him doing something fun on his terms. You don't want to be yelling at him all the time, and you don't want to think so badly about your son. Do your best to give him opportunities to be the well behaved boy you want him to be. Talk to him in positive terms. Could he be "gentle" or do something "considerate" for his brother?

I am also going to be in the camp of people who say to follow through on your actions as much as possible. If you give your son two choices (You can play nicely with your brother or you can go home with daddy.), it is important that both choices are indeed OK with you. Otherwise, pick other choice options. (example: You can play nicely with your brother, or you cannot be by your brother, but instead walk on the other side of mommy.)

I know it's hard to lay down the law when you want to create these special memories for your kids. I highly recommend the book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listening So Kids Will Talk" for handling some of these tough situations and getting through to a kid who will not listen.
 

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yes, but imho, parents should also tread with caution. following through with something just because you "said so" isn't flexible. second chances can be okay sometimes. i look at each individual circumstance personally. i agree, you should *say what you mean and mean what you say* - but i also recognize human error is inevitable and it's okay to change my mind if i feel it's appropriate. i second the book, "how to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk". it's excellent.
 

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"And I think that is the root of the problem actually -- that he feels bustled around too much."

Thank you mamaduck!! I needed to be reminded of this sweet empathy.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by luv2bamommy2 View Post
My advice is not my own, it comes from a book my mom bought titled "Have A New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. He says "If your child is trying to draw you into a power struggle, the solution is simple: Don't get drawn in!" "The key question is, who's the parent - you or your child?" "Never threaten, unless you are going to follow through!"

It isn't easy to do, I've been there and my son is only 3 1/2, but have your son stay home with his daddy. Stand firm on this, otherwise it's going to be repeated and repeated, and it will get worse as he gets older.

And don't feel your family day will be ruined, it only will be if you keep saying it will be. Give yourself some positive boosting, and encourage the rest of the family as well.

My mom is very enthusiastic about this book, she cares for my children while I work [single mom sole support] and says she doesn't need to raise her voice, threaten, count, or anything else and the kids are wonderful!
Please be wary of this book. Read the negative comments on amazon and see why they don't like it. I think you will it see it not a G/D book.

...and as always I agree with mamaduck!
 

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Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I also notice that he gets very tired of feeling rushed, and very tired of feeling like he is dragged around a lot. (And truly, he spends a lot of time having to ride along when we drive big bro. to activities and such.)

You know, I was just telling dh this the other day. I do feel like ds2 gets dragged around a lot. I move fast, and ds1 moves fast, so it's just natural for me. Ds2 doesn't move as fast. And I'm trying to make a conscious effort to slow it down a bit for him. Like today, we parked and I was wanting him to get out of his carseat, but he was busy trying to get some toy balanced a certain way or something. My natural inclination was to rush him along, but I took a breath and just stood there for a minute while he finished up. And then he got out and it was fine.

But then there are times when I just can't wait or it will have a negative impact on ds1. I'm hoping that if I minimize the times that ds2 has to move quickly, that he will be less resistant to it.

But oh my, the attitude this little guy can give off. He does this infuriating thing where if I stop and try to talk to him calmly, he will roll his head around and refuse to look at me, all the time with this goofy look on his face, all designed to let me know in no uncertain terms that he is not listening to a word I'm saying.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

I wasn't trying to threaten him. I was trying to explain that no one can enjoy the day if he is being rude and disrespectful. But now I'm stuck.
I hate it when that happens


I have found that I follow through on biggies like that only once in a while, to be honest, and that seems to last a while until things start getting out of hand again. Sometimes I just need to remind them of it when things seem to be slipping. If that makes any sense.
I also, of course, try not to make ultimatums unless I feel I can really stick to them but I screw that up sometimes
:. For example, I have said things like "since you don't seem to be getting along well and being patient and respectful with others, I can't let you go outside and play freely with the other kids so you're gonna have to stay in". And then, joy of joys, I get stuck inside with Child Misery.

I love turning it around though and giving second chances because it does tend to have a positive effect.

In the case you described in the OP I think I would go and have a great time with the older child. It can be very special one on one time for you two.

The way you worded this

Quote:
I wasn't trying to threaten him. I was trying to explain that no one can enjoy the day if he is being rude and disrespectful.
is great IMO. And I would really emphasize that. I find just a few of these 'consequences' can go a long way in bringing home the message of respect that you're looking to instill.

As far as their fighting goes, I stay out of it unless there's blood
. No, really I don't get involved in the details if at all possible but rather focus on the big picture. Their yelling/hitting/whatever is disrupting the peace in our home which isn't fair to me...etc. Enough blathering from me about peace and love and they've had enough and just start playing again.
I've also been known to tell them to go elsewhere to fight cause I just don't wanna hear it. I'm terrible.
 

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serial posting


Quote:

Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
But now with two, I can't do that. We have had an issue where we all agree on a project we are going to do, and I promise that we are going to the store to get the supplies. Then, when I get ready to leave, ds2 is in a mood and absolutely refuses to come with us - get up off the floor, put his shoes on, etc. But I can't not go to the store, because I promised ds1. And I can't leave ds2 at home alone. So where does that leave me?
This resonates with me so much as a single mom. Sometimes I literally fall to my knees and quote James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause : "you're tearing me apaaaart!" . It's really infuriating. In my A+ mom moments I calmly remind whichever child is digging in heels, that sometimes we all do things for him and how would he feel if someone ruined it. And in my C+ mom times I pretty much bribe, cajole, beg, plead, and command (and then later have the "mutual respect" talk).

I guess what I'm saying is I can relate. If that helps any.
 

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I agree with eliza. One of mine is very 'sensitive' and can feel backed into a corner over what other children might consider minor or non- issues. We did a lot of 'rewinds' when the child was smaller.

I said a lot of : "Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and then we do or say things we know aren't kind or fair. Let's slow down and rewind". Having something to eat, some quiet time with a book together, even snuggling on the sofa or otherwise changing the dynamics was always helpful to us. It's not rewarding negative behavior, it's calming it all down, which helps when emotions are so charged.

If you can rewind a bit, calm it all down, have a snack or a meal, I might rethink not going together as a whole family. While it might not change your mind about the outing, it might at least save part of the day.

If you do change your mind after a perod of calm, I would say something like "When people get upset we feel like everything is out of control. Sometimes we just can't stop ourselves, even when we want to. It's good we have each other to care for. We're learning a lot about feelings together. We were all upset before, but now we're all feeling calmer and can better enjoy each other's company".

For my extra-sensitive, needy child, knowing big emotions eventually passed, and good things could happen again was very important.

If I did decide to stay home, I might frame it as calming/refocusing time. Daddy and brother are going to get the tree, and you and he are going to get things ready together at home. (Simple things, move the chair for the treee, make some cookies or other snack together etc. I'd say that somtimes there is too much going on 'out there' and chilling at home is restful & helpful when emotions are tangled up and running high.

I am sure that if my child could have easily controled the big emotions as a little one, they would have. Happy ending is that my child has lots of coping skills today as an older child and is really a kind and loving soul. So hang in there and have hope.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
But then there are times when I just can't wait or it will have a negative impact on ds1.
I have found that if I really think about it, these times are few and far between. Leaving an extra ten minutes cushion time for anything planned is pretty much essential. But even then, it is possible to be 5 minutes late for virtually anything without it resulting in a disaster. (Uncomfortable to my deeply ingrained sense of punctuality and order, yes -- certainly. Truly adverse to our quality of life -- not generally as much as a power struggle with my stubborn child.)

For anything that is scheduled in advance, it is possible to start preparations well in advance (and to talk about the plan well in advance) and to move at a slower pace in getting ready. For regular scheduled recurring activities, we depend on routines. With our little guy, a carefully planned and consistent routine is something he can understand, buy into, and become attached to.

Focus on keeping tension low during preparations and transitions. I can't even begin to describe how difficult it is for me to do this. Its ridiculous. I am just so high strung sometimes! I have to actively focus on staying mellow, and keeping my reactions low key. But the pay off is equal to the effort.
 
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