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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted a couple days ago about our three older kids (4,4,turning 6 in a couple weeks) and the fighting and pinching that won't stop. I've been trying to separate them to separate places but I'm not having a lot of luck with it. I take each (the two 4 year olds have the most problem with this, 6 year old is picking up on it though) to a landing on the stairs, one up one down. The first time it worked pretty well. Everytime after that though, they won't stay. They run right back to each other and start pinching or pushing or whatever issue got them there to begin with. If we go outside to play for a change of scenery, it's just pinching outside.

I just sat down with all of them about an hour ago when things were calm to talk about it. I told them that we have a problem in our family and that I'd like their input in solving it. They threw lots of ideas out there, but almost everything was what dh and I could do with them after the pinching happens. I kept asking them what we could try so they don't pinch at all. Their suggestions were mostly things like put one in a bedroom and one in older sons bedroom, put one on a kitchen tile and one on another kitchen tile, etc. Just variations of location of what we're doing now.

The only other suggestion was from my older son. He suggested that we have a sticker chart (they get a sticker for good behavior at school) and when they're kind all day, they get a sticker. We tried sticker charts for things in the past (before I ever even heard of GD) and I'd rather not do stickers for this for a couple reasons. One, I don't really want to offer a reward for doing something they should do anyway. It's not like being kind to your brother is going above and beyond or anything. Also, I don't really want a sticker chart to keep track of. We have enough other stuff going on with four kids and don't need to remember stickers. Plus if one or two get a sticker in a day and the other pinched earlier in the afternoon, even if he didn't deserve the sticker, there will be a major fallout that evening that I don't want to turn in to a "well, if you wouldn't have pinched, you would be getting a sticker."

I'm not proud of myself for this, but I blurted out "If this behavior doesn't get under control within the next few days, we will be using timeouts again." We did timeouts two years ago and stopped for all the reasons most people here in this forum probably don't use them. All the boys said "Nooooo, no timeouts!" and I went on and said that dh and I can not let them get away with hurting each other. I told them that it is unacceptable and I don't know what else to do.

So I guess now I hope that they stop the pinching because the word timeout was thrown out there. I doubt it though. And I don't want to do timeouts again. My feelings on them haven't changed. The "taking a break timeout" isn't working for us though because they won't stay where I put them and instead of getting involved in something else, insist on going back to the brother and getting into it again.

Part of the problem might be a twin issue, since they're both doing four year old stuff at the exact same time. I don't know. Help!!
 

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I wouldn't really have any answers for you since I only have 1 ds. But does moving them from pinching to play wrestling seem like a possibility? Maybe even get them a mat or 5x7 rug that would keep this activity contained? My sister works in play therapy and taught my ds play wrestling.
It has rules:
1. no hitting, biting, scratching, pinching
2. anyone can call a time-out
3. we hug when we're done because we love each other

I would think that boys need some sort of energy outlet and it seems natural that they would want to get out their natural aggression with each other. Maybe finding some acceptable ways of doing this rather than fighting it would work for your family. Martial arts? Exercise videos?
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure. We have a mat that we got at IKEA. It's a roll up mat that is 5x7. Sometimes they do somersaults on it but mostly they ignore it. My dh is really good about being physical with them. They have all kinds of games that they play together several times a week. And they get outside to run around a minimum of an hour a day. On weekends it's more like 5 hours a day.

They just get really mad when one of them takes something and they forget all the ways we've talked about handling it.

This is sort of funny (besides the pinching part), but their preschool went to the fire station today. They were both wearing their firefighter hats and pretending to hold a hose and making a spraying sound. One of them told the other "ha ha ha ha ha, I put out the fire and you didn't!" and the other one got soooo mad. He said I did put it out. They argued, I stepped in when it started to get physical and pretended to see more fire for the other boy to put out, but he wasn't buying it. It amazes me how they can upset each other about pretend things!
 

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No great solutions from me, but man, I can relate!

My kids are 3, 3, and 5 and the fighting is very similar as is my level of frustration with it!

I try to use some Becky Bailey stuff (I should go re-read, actually), and look for the intent behind the action, then help the kid put it into words, along with a strong message of "you can't hit/pinch/push/grab". If it is continual, I will have the kid in question come and sit with me for a while, and if it continues, or is directed towards me when they are sitting with me, I do take them up to their rooms. They are allowed to come out whenever they choose -- when I see them on the stairs, I say something like "I see you are coming down, are you ready to use words to solve problems now?"

I did just start a reward system of sorts. I'm not totally into it, but it does help some, and right now, I'll take all the help I can get. I cut a bunch of flat magnets (the type businesses give away as promos) into matchstick lengths, and then put a paper on the fridge with a section for everyones name. I give them a stick (my dh thinks this is so funny, as "getting a stick" doesn't really sound good, yk?
) whenever they are being "good". So it can be for listening to me, helping clean up, solving a problem with words, being a good sport about something or whatever. If they are all playing together peaceably, I'll give them each a stick and tell them it is for playing without fighting. I kind of hate that though, b/c I hate to interrupt their game to point it out to them -- I try to listen carefully, and "catch them being good" when it sounds like it is on the cusp of ending
. That way, I don't ruin the game by pointing it out to them, and I shift their attention just before it goes south.

For my kids, I let them trade in 5 sticks for a quarter for their piggybanks. Another way to do this type of system, which I was recently reminded of, is to do a marble jar where the reward is for the whole family. You have one jar, and put in a marble each time anyone does one of the behaviors you want to reward, and when the jar is full the family gets/does something special (pizza night, trip to special playground, new toy that everyone will share etc). I kind of wish I had done that instead, and if we decide to keep it up, I may change over to that.

Not the most GD solution, but like I said, I'm willing to do what works at this point.

I think (hope
: )it is just the ages and closeness of the kids and will hopefully abate a bit as they grow more independent.

I know with my kids, a lot of it seems like it stems from their herd mentality. Even when they aren't getting along, they can't stand to be apart, yk? It seems like older kids are better able to recognize and act on the idea that if you aren't enjoying your brothers company, you should stay away from him.

Or at least that's what i'm banking on!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hmmm, we do have a bunch of marbles. My dad gave us a bunch a couple years ago when we were trying a reward system. We had several issues back then and had a big chart and each boy had a cup. We were putting m&m's in it but I wanted to switch over to something not sugary. Then I started reading more about rewards/punishment and decided against it. I kind of like the idea of a family marble jar though. It's similar to what they do in my son's kindergarten class. They have a Star Jar. Whenever the class does something really well (lines up nicely without fighting, kindness towards others, etc, it's all stuff they do without being prompted) a star goes in. When it's full (24 stars) they have a star jar party. My son is totally in to it and tells me every day how many stars they have and how many they have to go. So far the parties are all sweet things (puppy chow, cupcakes, brownies) but I'll bet I could figure something out as the prize. It's definitely something to think about. I feel like we're just in survival mode right now and no one is really enjoying things. We need something to change.
 

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i never wanted to do sticker charts but i did one a while back. it worked great. they will remember for you. i think they are better than time outs b/c they are positive. maybe have one big sticker chart and they get a sticker if NO ONE pinches all day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by nichole View Post
i never wanted to do sticker charts but i did one a while back. it worked great. they will remember for you. i think they are better than time outs b/c they are positive. maybe have one big sticker chart and they get a sticker if NO ONE pinches all day.
Oh...I like that idea. Then they have to work together to get the sticker. I'm going to talk with dh and see what he thinks.
 

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Yk, I wouldn't make getting a sticker contingent upon not pinching all day. I think that if they're pinching frequently, it might be that they'll never get that sticker if the requirement is to go all day without pinching. I think if you're going to do stickers, it's probably a little more positive and concrete if you reward more often. And I think these things work better if you're reward for the behavior you want to see (being gentle), rather than for a lack of behavior (no pinching).

I am not a rewards person, I really don't like them in general and don't like to use them in our family, but they can be helpful. We've had a lot of sibling fighting/aggression here lately, and it was getting pretty miserable and negative. We recently decided to do a reward system for respectful, gentle behavior, as a sort of "jump start." We have 3 kids, and each has a jar (this is b/c they like to have their own jar, and we did involve them in the planning, which I think is important). Whenever we notice that the kids are getting along well, speaking to each other respectfully and being gentle, they put a marble in the jar. When their jar is full, they can choose a way to celebrate how well they've been getting along with others. My son thinks that when his jar is full, he'd like for us all to go on a picnic at the park. We don't think of this as a long-term solution, it's just (for the moment) giving us something positive to focus on--the kids are excited to put marbles in their jar and to have a goal, so they're working extra hard right now on getting along, which gives us more opportunity to notice their positive behavior, to give them positive feedback, and to build on that positive behavior.

I think that reward systems work best when they're specific (so the children know exactly what behaviors they're being rewarded for), the kids are on board/willing (imo it's a good idea to involve them in the planning), the rewards (stickers, marbles and whatever they get when they have enough stickers/marbles) come regularly or soon enough that it isn't frustrating, and the whole tone of it is positive (lots of positive feedback, and think carefully about whether or not you'll take stickers/marbles/whatever away for undesirable behavior--that can be frustrating and discouraging, and imo can get in the way of progress). eta Just wanted to add something which you probably already have in mind, which is that imo even with the reward system it's important to really work on prevention and helping them learn how to resolve their sibling conflicts without aggression. There's a book I like, called Raising A Thinking Child, which talks a lot about helping kids learn to resolve conflict and get along with others and gives suggestions for teaching and practicing these skills (primarily outside the moment of conflict, when kids are calm enough to learn). It's geared for parents of preschoolers and young children.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sledg, thank you for your thoughts. I agree that if we do end up doing a marble/sticker thing, it shouldn't be for all day. I can see how frequent rewards would be more helpful and motivating. Also, if we do it, we definitely won't be removing for unacceptable ways of handling things. That's one thing I was happy about with the kindy teacher- she said the star jar is all positive. Once it goes in, it doesn't come out. She does have a timeout type program for negative stuff.

I'm just not ready to commit to a reward system yet. I read something on another thread last night that said when you start something new, to stick with it for three weeks before evaluating to see how well it's working/not working. We just started splitting them up on Monday. I was sick yesterday and kind of today so it hasn't been a normal week. We're going to keep working at it.

I did just go over to them and tell them that I noticed they've been very kind to each other. I asked them how they felt when they're kind and they said things like proud, fun, nice, happy. I'm going to try to be hyper-attentive to their conflicts and when I notice little things (like when one has two trucks and one has none, sometimes one will say "here, you can have one of my trucks") I'm going to notice it so they're getting some positive feedback about how they're handling things.

I'm also going to commit to being with just them and getting in their world to play however they want for stretches during the day. It may only be 15 minutes at a time, but I will focus only on them. No quick checks of email, switching laundry, quick chores, etc. My boys play for the most part very well independently without me and I think I've taken advantage of that. I realize now that I often get involved only when we've reached the point of me being on the verge of anger, they're fighting with each other and everyone is on everyone else's nerves. I'd also like to figure out how to incorporate a few minutes alone with each of them each day, but I'm not sure how to do that. I could possibly put the twins to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than my older son so I could have a bit of time with him before bed to read something to him, but I don't know how to split up the twins for alone time. They generally don't like being apart.

Anyway, my plan is: notice them handling conflicts well, continue separating when they hurt each other, spend more quality time with them where they direct the play, find small chunks of time for some individual time with each boy, go to the library for recommended books.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lovemyfamily6 View Post
I did just go over to them and tell them that I noticed they've been very kind to each other. I asked them how they felt when they're kind and they said things like proud, fun, nice, happy. I'm going to try to be hyper-attentive to their conflicts and when I notice little things (like when one has two trucks and one has none, sometimes one will say "here, you can have one of my trucks") I'm going to notice it so they're getting some positive feedback about how they're handling things.

I'm also going to commit to being with just them and getting in their world to play however they want for stretches during the day. It may only be 15 minutes at a time, but I will focus only on them. No quick checks of email, switching laundry, quick chores, etc. My boys play for the most part very well independently without me and I think I've taken advantage of that. I realize now that I often get involved only when we've reached the point of me being on the verge of anger, they're fighting with each other and everyone is on everyone else's nerves. I'd also like to figure out how to incorporate a few minutes alone with each of them each day, but I'm not sure how to do that. I could possibly put the twins to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than my older son so I could have a bit of time with him before bed to read something to him, but I don't know how to split up the twins for alone time. They generally don't like being apart.

Anyway, my plan is: notice them handling conflicts well, continue separating when they hurt each other, spend more quality time with them where they direct the play, find small chunks of time for some individual time with each boy, go to the library for recommended books.

I think this sounds like an excellent plan! I read somewhere not all that long ago that even spending only 15 minutes a day really connecting with kids in play that they direct really goes a long way toward filling their cups. It means a lot.

And yk, with 3 kids it can be hard to get time alone with each one daily and it's easier for us to do one-on-one time on weekends when dh is home. eta We do get some one-one-one time most days, even if it's just a few minutes at a time--usually when two kids are playing, I can have time with one; also two of mine are in school which gives me time with the youngest. But I do find that it's possible to connect with each child more often during the day even if we don't actually get one-on-one time (or don't get as much one-on-one time as I'd like). Connecting can be as simple as really listening, giving full attention (even for just a few seconds, if what they have to say only takes that long); making eye contact when listening/talking; making sure to make physical contact more often; remembering to tell them how much I appreciate them and their help; talking about fun memories we share or asking about their day/play; talking about how special our family is; being silly together more often (telling jokes, making goofy faces, finding the humor in tough situations); etc. It's easy to overlook these little things when life gets stressful/busy, or when kids play so independently that we adults get busy with our own thing.

Also, bedtime is a big time for connection here. Each has their own bed, and I take turns cuddling with each one, and this is often a time to talk a bit and cuddle.
 

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Have you tried any of the "Siblings W/Out Rivalry" stuff? Like, instead of pinching, each boy can draw a picture of how mad they are/how hard they want to pinch the other brother? Or they can only use their voices and words to hurt each other? Sure, things might be pretty ugly for a while, but once you reduced the physical violence, maybe then you could start on the "no insults".

Also, do they kind of like fighting, and it gets carried away? Is it a form of release? If they're all about the same size, could you have sanctioned wrestling for an hour a day, with ground rules? Or how about boxing gloves for all of them? My dad and his closely aged brother always boxed each other, I think it was a good way for them to resolve the simmering competition between them.
 

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I have two sons age 6 & 8. We had modeled, discussed, charted you name it. Nothing was stopping the fighting and bickering. We sat them both down and explained that we had given them all the tools we knew to help them stop treating each other disrespectfully. We said that we feel this is the choice they were making and they were perfectly capable of making good choices as well as not so good. They now owned this problem. We told them if they made the choice to fight and talk without respect that they would need to figure this out. We were not the judge, mediator, or referee anymore. The 8 year old said "So, you don't care about us anymore?" And I told him "No, I care too much and am trying to control how you treat each other to show that you love each other and that is not working." So from that point if they decided to fight and talk disrespectfully they could not run to either myself of their dad. The next day there was a very heated LOUD arguement that occured upstairs. I walked out to the back porch where I could hear them, but they did not know that. After a few minutes of me not intervening I hear "Mom?" I calmy let them know where I was and the arguement ended. A few days later there was another one out in the garage. It took EVERYTHING I had not to go out. It was loud and was getting ugly. I opened the door to "Go to the freezer"
and in fell my youngest. I guess he was blockading the door from his brother. I helped him up, gave him a kiss and hug and went on about my business. At most, there has been one other altercation between the two of them and that was last week. I noticed that I was starting to get into their business again and backed off. The fighting and arguing has all but ceased. This all started in July and I am enjoying my boys so very much. All the things I had been trying to get them to do, they are doing...without me hovering or nagging. I know not all GD will advocate the approach we took, but I just wanted to share what has worked for us. It is a much more calm and loving household!!!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lovemyfamily6 View Post
I haven't. I need to look at that book. Do you feel that it's referenced often enough to be worth owning? If so, I'll just buy it.
Yeah, I bought it because I felt that it was worth it. I just refer back to it occasionally and get "recharged". It's also a quick read, with lots of little anecdotes and cartoons that have some good scripts in them.

You have a tough situation, like you said, w/two at the same age. I guess there's probably some advantages to that, like they're more equally matched, but I can see how competition would be rampant. I think one of the main points of the book is to be sympathetic while still holding the party line. For example, you could say, "Oh, X took your dinosaur! That seems frustrating! I bet you wish he would have asked you before that happened. In our family, we have a rule of no hitting, so I want you to tell him with your words how mad you are at him." Or something along those lines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I realize it has only been four days since posting this, but I have a positive update so far. My kids haven't pinched each other since Thursday night. They've done other things- pushing and other physical things, but not as often and it's easier to stop because I can sort of read cues in their eyes and intercept.

I've been noticing when they don't pinch. Although now I'm not giving a reminder of pinching by saying the word, instead I'm saying what I see, like "Wow, you both wanted that truck at the same time and you found a way to take turns." or "I noticed that you both wanted the same chair. You moved another chair there so you're next to each other. You guys really solved the problem."

Also, I've started letting them climb on and be silly with me. It's actually really fun (although a bit painful at times
) and everyone loves it! Sometimes I'm a boat and they all three sit on me, sometimes I'm a mountain and they climb on me, sometimes they squeeze my cheeks together and make me make silly faces. We all end up laughing and no one is hurting each other.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we've turned a corner.
 
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