Saturday, April 16, 2011

Question of the Week returns

I participate in several Yahoo groups related to homeschooling, disabilites, and other topics. One of the group moderators had started posting a "Question of the Week" as a discussion starter. I enjoyed reading the questions, responding, and reading the responses, but it took time away from blogging. Since the topics were generally related to the topics I blog about, I decided to post some of my responses here. Shortly after,   the moderator found herself busy with other obligations, and the Question of the Week fell by the wayside. She's back, and has given the Question of the Week its own Yahoo group.

Usually the question is a single sentence, but this week we have some background story:

am having a day where I would like to scream, yell, and cry all at the same
time. My kids are fighting non-stop--actually escalated into a fist fight and
school is completely unproductive today.

I have older teens, so I run into great difficulty when it comes to coming up
with disciplinary measures. My kids have activities almost every day and
evening--and I would love to remove them--but other people depend on my kids to
participate in them, such as being Cub Scout Den Chiefs. So I feel that taking
those things away would really be more of a penalty to the others that depend on
them. I have thought about removing computer, cell phone, electronic games, but
I am not sure how effective that would be.

I don't take the approach that "boys will be boys"--and I do generally
discipline them; but apparently what I have done in the past is not working; and
I am really frustrated today with my kids.

I don't know if they just need a break from each other as they do spend so much
time together and do nearly all of the same stuff. I can't figure it out; I
just know that I feel like a parental failure today.

I need some creative ideas.

What do you all do for disciplinary measures in your home?
You can read the responses there. Here's mine:

My boys are 14 and 12, and they excel at annoying each other. When one of them wants attention or is just bored, he finds his brother and tries his most effective annoyance techniques, one after the other, until he gets a response. Despite hundreds, perhaps thousands, of repetitions, he is still surprised when his brother finally gets mad and yells at him. It just never seems to occur to either boy that:

1. Although these behaviors get attention, it may not be the kind of attention he wants.
2. If he annoys his brother enough, his brother will get mad.
3. When his brother gets mad, he will yell at him, and possibly hit him.
4. This will make Mom and Dad unhappy.
5. Mom and Dad are already unhappy with him, because his brother is supposed to be doing schoolwork, and even if his brother has kept his temper so far, he is distracting him.
6. If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
7. He started this whole process, and could have avoided it by leaving his brother alone. 

The brother who started it thinks the other brother started it by hitting him. To him, bringing up what he did is only changing the subject. If we keep bringing the conversation back to what he did, he will finally admit that he did something, but minimize it: "All I did was tickle his neck."

Neglecting to mention (even refusing to admit, if it's pointed out) that:
1. Brother hates having his neck tickled.
2. He knew this, and did it anyway.
3. He had already done 47 other things specifically designed to annoy his brother.

Punishment has not been effective, since each boy believes he is entirely innocent, and we are punishing him for his brother's actions. We do point out the above-mentioned facts, and maybe, with time, repetition, and maturity, they may begin to sink in. Perhaps the boys will someday allow the possibility that we might be right on one or more points.

In the mean time, they have work that needs done. If they are both working, I put them in separate rooms where I can keep an eye on them, but they can't see or hear each other. If one of them finishes before the other, he is allowed, and on most days required, to find a quiet activity in a place where he can't bother his brother, and his brother can't bother him. 14 yos usually goes to his room to watch a DVD (with headphones). 12 yos usually goes to the basement to play LEGO. We've recently discovered (with his concentration issues, who'd have thought?) that 12 yos can take his schoolwork to the public library (two blocks away) and actually be focused and productive. 

Once they have both finished their schoolwork for the day, they usually get along better. If they don't we separate them.

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Blogger Arby said...

As a former Cubmaster and current Boy Scouter, I say keep them home from their evening activities. The Den will survive without them, and possibly the shame of having to face the den and den leader later and explain his absence will be enough positive peer pressure to help him straighten out.

The next time the boys act up, as them to “Run the Twelve.” Running the Twelve means to recite the Scout Law out loud, and then explain how their actions support the law. Are they being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent? This works well when it comes from a dad in the troop, so ask one to help.

April 16, 2011 at 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG. This makes my head hurt. We have that now, but our boys are about 4-1/2 and 3-1/2. You mean to tell me it doesn't eventually STOP? I need to go make myself a drink now.

April 16, 2011 at 5:44 PM  

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