First, you’re doing fine. Your kids are great. You probably know all this stuff, and you just forgotten. Like when you get a flat, some of us realize what to do right away. Some of us take a minute or two. Some of us freak out and need some one to remind us how to do it.
Second this is a reminder. You can do this.
What do you do if your kids are acting crazy, and you are just 30 minutes from taking drastic action. Possibly regrettable, drastic action.
If you are that close to the edge, Parent Time Out. They are great. You tell your children that you need a time out to calm down. Take 5 minutes, ten, if you have toddlers, they will probably suggest your age. Maybe don’t stay away for 100 minutes. Take the time to calm down and focus. Take the time to read a few funny memes, wash your face, eat the hidden chocolate. Do what you need to calm down.
Next before any of these next suggestions work, please make sure you’re spending time with your kids. They’re stuck with you; you’re stuck with them. You’re not accidental roommates. Be the Fun Parent as well as the Taskmaster. Carve out time to be with them. When was the last time you played Legos or Princess? If you need to set a time, do so, and let your child know that you will play later. Easy. You know this.
What if your kids are at each other’s throats?
Get them moving. My kids are high energy, so they need to move. We’re averaging two walks a day. Some days that’s not enough. Right now they aren’t getting PE, and they are dealing with their siblings and parents. Remember those days when you were a kid. So get them out of the house.
But Fae have you seen the weather, our neighborhood, my sleeping toddler?
Yeah, ok. Family walks, hikes, runs are not always feasible. When my boys are insisting on antagonizing the hell out of each other, I give them something to do instead. Chores. Some weekends my house looks amazing. Every time someone picks on someone else, I give them a chore. I tell them if they can’t think of something constructive to do with their energy, I will. Cleaning windows, cleaning walls, sweeping, dusting, scrubbing. Have a list ready.
But what about fighting?
5 for fighting. No, usually more time. Time Outs for calming down. I love the meditation jar or calm down jar. I tell my boys that they need to calm down and they need to be in a place without the distraction that’s make them angry. When they were younger, I had a time out chair. As they got older, I sent them to their rooms. Now they have a choice. For some reason, one boy will choose my room. Whatever.
I have also been known to pull the plug on video games and videos for 24 hours. Right now in this time of crisis, that sounds like a bad idea. I still did it to Tornado S last week. I sent him to his room to calm down and write an apology letter, and then I banned him from video games and videos. I wouldn’t stretch it beyond 24 hours, even with repeat offenders. You get to far down the days, and time holds no meaning to them; you’re also likely to crack after the 3rd day.
But they keep fighting?
Then chores. So many chores. Your home is going to look amazing. If you have a backyard, pull weeds, move rocks. Be clear that as soon as they can figure out what to do with their energy and frustration, they can stop.
Name-calling and Cussing.
I hate name-calling. It gets on my nerves. I’ve tried time out, chores, apology letters, apology chore for the other person. None of this has worked for me, but they may work for you. We have a Name-calling Jar. Fifty cents for a name. Last time I cleaned it out we had over twenty bucks. Yes, I’ve had to put money in the jar for telling my dad he was acting like a jerk. Oh, and “acting like” or “are like” are still name-calling in my house. Nice try, kid; I know what you did there.
Oh and a buck for calling someone a penis. Living with boys….
I don’t like cussing either. I have tried time out, vinegar, all sorts of soap. We know do bar soap. Because I live with my parents and my dad is stricter with cussing, my dad tends to do this punishment. For some reason, this has worked better than the other times. Who knew?
What about you, the adult?
I am a big believer in modeling the behavior we want and setting rules everyone goes by. So yes, two weeks ago, I let out a doozy of a word while driving. The boys chimed in and demanded that I eat soap when I got home. So I did. It was just as bad as when I was a kid.
Guys, we are all frustrated, bored, worried, scared, lonely, angry, sad right now. We are all dealing with some pretty big feelings right now, and most of us are not handling it well. I refuse to count the Thin Mints I have eaten. We need to help our kids deal with their feelings as do we all. Encourage healthy outlets before the tantrums. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Encourage writing, drawing, exercising.
When those temper tantrums ok, I do time out with a meditation jar. I set the time to their age. The jar is filled with water, glitter, glitter glue, and food coloring. Watching the glue settle is relaxing. After the time out, let the child know exactly why he or she was sent to time out and brainstorm on better ways to handle it. I go over the family rules. Some parents demand apologies. Do what works for you, but be fair.
If you have a temper tantrum, you need time out too. You need to apologize. Yes, I follow my own advice. Nothing is more humbling than admitting that you lost your cool, but it feels so good to brainstorm and try harder next time.
Good luck! Stay safe. Stay sane. We’re all in this together.