My Kids Fight

Hate to disappoint you. We are not a perfect, Christian, homeschool family. Well, we do homeschool and we are Christians … but the perfect part? Therein lies the problem. You see many of us have these high hopes that homeschooling will insure that our kids get along – or that at the very least, will learn how to get along. Of course when things don’t work out the way we expect we are floored.

My Kids Fight! Out of five children there have been arguing and fighting at different times during their lives. Sometimes it was the oldest and the youngest. Other times it was the two youngest. I remember once being so frustrated that I made my oldest two, my son and my daughter sit face-to-face until they could “stand” to be around each other. Their words were “I can’t stand to be around him/her.” Well, that took care of them saying those offending words. The rest took work.

However, I began to see a pattern emerging…one child in particular had difficulty getting along with…well, everyone. My difficult child is a handful. He was a handful as young and even as he got older and we found he struggled academically. Mine was tough love. I expected allot from him, and often he delivered. One thing he learned—and that was to be detail oriented, when it came to what others in the family should and should not do. Unfortunately this perfectionism wasn’t applied to his own life.

Do your kids fight? Homeschooling isn't a magic wand. Our kids are still human. Tips and guidance to help you through.

I know – it’s easy to cry, “Help! My Kids Don’t Get Along!” After the relief that comes with getting it off my chest, I decided some things needed to change and namely me.

  • The way I reacted.
  • The discipline I meted out.
  • The realization that yelling did not help.

I quickly learned that micro-managing could only go so far. I once heard a seminar given by a renowned child discipline advocate that stated when the child is young redistricting bad behavior is necessary but as the child grew we, as parents could relax a bit more. This did not happen in this child’s case. Teaching him self-control proved to be a formidable task and sadly is ongoing. So, what do you do with the difficult child? Or children in general that do not get along? Here are a few of my go-to methods for those times that I am at wits end.

My short list on child behavior modifying techniques:

  1. Pray: When I’m at a loss I ask the Lord in prayer for help, even when it comes to the perfect punishment. HE has been amazing with HIS answers… and believe me, some were short of miraculous in nature in their effectiveness. [Listen to the podcast here for details.]
  2. Punishment vs. Crime: Be sure the punishment fits the “crime” … if your child misbehaves at dinner consider having them eat a cold dinner alone, or doing the dishes. My teenage son has done many dishes when it is not his turn due to causing a fight at the dinner table, or acting rudely. This of course is spelled out way in advance.
  3. Tell your kids what to expect: if you are going into a store, make sure they know to keep their hands behind their backs when looking at things or IN their pockets for little ones. Older children know ahead of time if they break something they will pay for it. Just be clear of expectations.
  4. Make sure you child understands what the punishment will be. If that is not a deterrent, think of another punishment. [You can’t (well you can but it does not go over very well) come up with punishments on the fly… often the punishment is out of anger or frustration and will not curb the event from happening again.]
  5. Repeat back: often I ask my kids to tell me what I said. In that way there is no confusion or the words, “I didn’t know that is what you said!” It is clear to all.
  6. Keep it short. Long explanations are often tuned out – after the first two minutes. Keep it brief and on target.
  7. Encourage. When a child is doing something good, let them know you appreciate it. Catch them and reward good behavior.
  8. Mentor: some children need extra work and practice. When children are young, practice calling their name and having them walk or run toward you. Reward this with a hug and praise. The same thing with hand holding. My grandkids hate to hold hands in the parking lot and I witnessed an accident as a child in the parking lot. So, when they are with me they know to hold my hand, or they will not be allowed to go.
  9. Prepare: Are you prepared to turn the car around on the way to a fun field trip if your children will not behave in the car? Are you prepared to pull off the road when you need to discipline. Believe me, I’ve done both of these things and the reactions are astounding, loud, and are not repeated. It only takes one time of us being firm for our kids to get the idea and respond.
  10. Relax/Anger: parenting isn’t easy. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t get easier… little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems. Righteous anger is fine – reacting out of anger rarely works out well for either party. Be sure your life is filled with prayer and rely on God for that extra strength that is sometimes needed to get through the day!

Remember the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in one day.” It is worth repeating and remembering. Parenting is an ongoing effort and in the process we learn about ourselves, our children and best of all, if done correctly our memories will be wonderful and lasting.

 

 

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