The Punishment Fits the Crime {Sort Of.}

Kids Fighting

Maybe it’s just because it’s the middle of winter.
Maybe my kids have a touch of the SAD blues.
Maybe if I don’t get out of this freaking house and get away from the kids I am going to…
No, that’s not it.
Anyway, I am so dang sick and tired of the fighting.

Ooh, pardon my Mormon curse words. ;)
Is this normal? The fighting, the constant bickering, the violent outbursts?
Individually my kids are some of the sweetest kids around. Jordan in particular is mature far past his age and is a great helper. But if you put him and his sister in the same room for ten minutes…
It’s like someone declared world war three in my family room.

I’m actually pretty wimpy nice about punishing my kids. I may yell and threaten till I’m blue in the face, but I don’t actually do much. I don’t want to make them sad. :(
Okay, wimpy, yes.
But also the invariable whining after following through with a punishment… ugh. Hate it.
Where was I?

Oh yes. So Monday morning, the kids are sent downstairs to brush their teeth. I try really hard to avoid simultaneous teeth-brushing activities. It’s either fighting or goofing off, and either way it ticks me off and makes us late. Monday morning, though, it was unavoidable, so down they went. I continued to get the baby ready to leave.
{Getting four kids to leave the house each morning to drive 18 minutes across town in the dead of winter is going to knock some serious years off my life.}

Almost immediately, I hear Rebecca burst into tears over something. At this point, I’m tired, and tired of yelling “knock it off, you two!” to which they say automatically, “we’ll stop,” and then proceed to do whatever it was I told them to knock off. And something sort of mean clicks on in my brain.

I owe them money.

They did some extra chores over the weekend, and somehow it added up to a little bit more than I expected. I don’t want to pay them all that money. I told them they lost $2 for fighting, and no, they can’t “earn it back” on good behavior, but they are welcome to do more chores to earn it back.

They are totally shocked. And mad!

Good. On the way to school I lectured them about bekindtoyoursiblings and all that. I asked Jordan why he has to hit his sister, a girl, so often. He remarked, “sometimes I just want to get her back.” Now, this is a mature kid, and dang it all he knows better. I ask, “What would happen if you hit that kid who keeps bugging you at school? Just to get him back?”

“I’d get suspended.”

“Exactly. I’m tired of being the nice mom and I’m tired of you guys not learning to be kind to each other. The next time you fight, and especially the next time you hurt each other, you’re suspended. In your room, nothing but school and homework, I’ll bring your dinner to you, you will be suspended from the family.”

Don’t you love when totally awesome ideas pop into your head on the fly? I’m chalking this one up to inspiration, though I’m really tempted to take the credit. :) I reiterated the rules and the punishment with both of them.

It’s only been a few days, but I’ve seen remarkable progress. In fact, I’ve heard Jordan say a few times to his sister, “Come on, I don’t want to fight,” when an argument starts to brew. Of course, he’s saying that so she’ll yield to whatever he wants, but so far… there’s a little more peace in our home.

The lesson is this: clear punishments and a clear expectation that violence will not be tolerated.
Who knew it was that simple?

PS – I’m not stupid. This isn’t the end of the fighting, and I actually look forward to their “suspension,” they can learn just how serious I am about this. But progress is progress, and I’m grateful!

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5 Responses to The Punishment Fits the Crime {Sort Of.}

  1. Andrea says:

    I only have one kid, but I’ve definitely found that having clear expectations and following through makes a big difference.

    • Following through is where I typically fail, but I can threaten like nobody’s business! Hahhaa. I did have a chance to follow through on this, and she *hated* it. And it’s been a lot more peaceful around here too, as far as physical fighting!

  2. Liz Higgs says:

    “clear punishments and a clear expectation that violence will not be tolerated.”

    I totally agree with this statement. I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are old enough to be earning money, they are old enough to have a bad behavior jar and be charged for being naughty. lol! I hope your in house suspension works like you hope ;-)

    ~liz

    • Hmm, bad behavior jar huh? Love it. Of course, sounds like one of those things where consistency comes into play, which I suck at! But I’m ready to try about anything. :)

      • Shaesta says:

        this before but it’s worth meoinnitng again: the golf shoe game has changed. Seriously, go down to your local golf store and peruse the shoe section. You’ll likely find a bunch of standard models on the wall, but if you look closely you’ll notice there’s a growing trend within the industry, as golf manufacturers continue to release designs that look more like your standard running or trail shoe than something you’d slip on for your usual Sunday morning round.

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