24 hours into Positive Discipline. This sh*t works.

Yesterday morning, Operation Positive Discipline officially took effect.

If you read Saturday’s post, you know that one of the biggest challenges I’m facing  is the kids arguing multiple times a day.

And I’ve been constantly refereeing and consequently wanting to gouge my eyeballs out with a tiny replica of the Empire State Building.

Yesterday morning was no different.

At 6:30 a.m., Number 6 and 7 were the first kids to come downstairs.

Since it was the weekend, they were allowed to watch TV.

I knew the arguing was coming.

But this time it wasn’t over which show they would watch but who got to pick which show to watch first.

I almost automatically handed the remote to Number 7.

But I caught myself.

“You can each watch a show as soon as the two of you agree on who gets to pick first.”

Oy.

Of course, since Number 7 has almost always been given the first pick because she’s the youngest and because she’s the best at throwing the world’s longest and loudest tantrums, this news didn’t sit well with her.

She started yelling.

Then Number 6 started yelling.

I want to pick first.

No. I want to pick first.

No, I want to pick first!

NO! I WANT TO PICK FIRST!

This continued for a while.

I really needed some coffee, so I told them I was confident they would come up with a solution by the time I got back.

I lied.

I wasn’t confident at all.

But I had to give them a chance. Plus they were already seriously pissing me off and I had to take a little break.

By the time I got a mug out of the cabinet and poured myself some coffee, Number 6 was screaming hysterically.

I wasn’t surprised.

This is another reason why I’ve decided to try this Positive Discipline approach.

Every time I leave the room, or as soon as my back is turned, the kids pull some sort of shit they know they aren’t supposed to do.

Or the fighting escalates and goes from yelling at each other to getting physical.

This time was no exception.

Number 7 got so mad that she bit Number 6.

I wasn’t surprised.

Now normal protocol around here would be to send Number 7 to her room for a time out.

Clearly the time outs for biting (or hitting or kicking or punching or whatever) are not working.

Because if they were, the kids wouldn’t still be biting and hitting and kicking and punching.

According to the Positive Discipline approach, when things get physical, this is where you physically intervene.

So I sat between the two of them on the couch. I empathized with them. I let them know I understood that they were both upset and angry and frustrated. But I let them know biting wasn’t an acceptable way of expressing anger.

The Mexican stand off continued.

I want to pick first.

No. I want to pick first.

No, I want to pick first!

NO! I WANT TO PICK FIRST!

Number 7 said, “IT’S YOUNGEST TO OLDEST BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT SAYS IN CANDY LAND!!!”

She hung on to that one for a while.

I could see this was going to take a while.

It had now been thirty minutes of the two of them going back and forth.

I was dying. I had a lot of stuff to do yesterday, and waiting for these two to agree on who was going to pick a show for a half an hour was definitely not one of them.

This is why we are so quick to intervene and just make a decision for the kids. Because this was really fucking irritating.

But while that may solve the problem in the short term, the arguments will start up again shortly. And you’ll be refereeing again. So in the long run you aren’t saving yourself any time at all.

They weren’t really getting anywhere, and Number 7 was getting so worked up that she was completely irrational, so I redirected them.

“Who wants breakfast?”

The both wanted breakfast.

We went into the kitchen and they completely forgot about the TV.

I made some oatmeal and some sausage, and they were eating, and then all of a sudden, Number 7 said, “How about if we do eenie, meenie, miney, mo?”

Number 6 smiled and exclaimed, “OKAY!

Wait… what the —

Holy shit!

Number 6 started  — Eenie, meenie, miney mo…

All I could think was Fuck. We better end up on Number 7 or we will be right back to square one.

The stars must have been in alignment, because Number 6 went back and forth and finished with red, white, and blue, I pick YOU! and thank the Lord he landed on Number 6.

She smiled. He smiled. They finished their oatmeal and then at 7:30, and hour after they had both come downstairs, Number 7 finally picked her show.

It took a fucking hour.

BUT…

Later in the morning, the kids turned a cardboard box into a recliner with pillows in it.

It was actually pretty cool.

Until Number 7 sat in it and then Number 5 wanted to sit in it and Number 7 wouldn’t let her and they were yelling at each other and then Number 5 was screaming MOM at the top of her lungs.

I reminded her that I was no longer solving their problems for them.

Number 7 yelled out, YOUNGEST TO OLDEST! I HAVE A TURN TODAY, AND YOU HAVE  TURN… TOMORROW!

I had to explain to her that they needed to find a way to share and to both have turns today.

This time, it only took them about five minutes.

Ultimately, they asked me if I would set the timer.

“For twelve minutes,” Number 7 said.

So I set the timer on my phone for twelve minutes, and when it went off, Number 7 willingly got out of the “recliner” on her own and Number 5 climbed in.

Huh. That worked pretty well.

Now I don’t know if it is coincidence or what, but yesterday all six kids were home, and my husband was working all day so I was alone and trying to get some things done.

This would normally be impossible because my kids would be needing some sort of intervention every fifteen minutes.

But after the first two exercises in having to work things out on their own earlier in the day, something seemed to click.

I stayed consistent, and they got it.

They got it so much that later on in the day when Number 5 and 7 were playing “teacher” and were having trouble deciding who would be the teacher and who would be the student, Number 5 came into the office and just asked me, “Mommy, can you set the timer and tell us when it goes off so we know when to switch teachers?”

HOLY SHIT!

They were seriously getting it! Quickly!

Day one of Operation Positive Discipline wasn’t just good. It was great.

So I’m gonna keep going.

And I’m going to take you along with me, because I  sincerely believe that this is something we should all consider giving a try.

 

 

 

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6 replies
  1. Sara Takacs
    Sara Takacs says:

    i love this. honestly, kids don’t want to be unhappy. they don’t like screaming any more than anyone likes listening to it! they’re people to. i think this is awesome. you’re killin’ it girlfriend.

    Reply
  2. SILVIA
    SILVIA says:

    Oh my! You have a lot of patience. I so need this. I have 3 and the middle one acts up constantly if she cannot get her way. She acts up 2x more as if I had more kids. She is very independent, bossy, strong-willed child. She is a sweet heart when she wants to be and I praise her about it. I am trying what you suggested. We will see where this will take us. God give me patience! Thank you for the post. I will soon blog on my progress too! Silvia http://www.iamthedrmom.com

    Reply
  3. Richard O'Keef
    Richard O'Keef says:

    Don’t you love experimenting with new ways to get kids to cooperate? I love it when I hear stories like this. Here is something you might call: five steps to inspire kids to solve their own can’t-we-all-just-get-along problems.

    Step 1. Stop the fighting and acknowledge their anger: “Hold it, you guys! You two sound really mad at each other.”

    Step 2. Find out what’s going on. “What’s going on? Andrea, you first, then, when she’s done, Kimmie, I want to hear from you.” Give each child a chance to express her point of view without interruption from you or the other child – whether what she says is true or not.

    Step 3. Reflect the point of view from each child. “So Andrea, you want to pick which show to watch first. Kimmie, you also want first pick.”

    Step 4. Summarize the problem. “That’s a tough one. You both want first pick.”

    Step 5. Express confidence that the two of them can work it out. “I’m confident that the two of you will come up with a solution that is fair for both of you.” When you come to a decision, you may turn on the TV.” Then leave the room.

    Hope this helps. Richard. http://howtogetkidstobehave.com

    Reply
  4. Danise
    Danise says:

    Try grounding them from each other. I used to do that all the time with my older kids (we have 7). You want to talk about reverse psychology??
    They would begin to bicker over this or that, and I wouldn’t intervene. But when it got to shouting or really bothering me, I would send them each to a different room (as they shared rooms) and tell them that they may not play together for the rest of the day.
    Now, this didn’t mean they played tablets, iPads, phones, Xbox or the like. They read. Played legos. Dolls. But none of that is much fun alone.
    So before I knew it, I would hear whispering, from the edge of one doorway across the hall to another. And then another whisper would join in… lol. I would have to turn away purposely so they could sneak into the others room to very quietly play legos. I’d stifle a giggle. And HOURS later, they would wait til “I wasn’t looking” and hop across back to their own room, and when they thought it was safe they’d say: Mom, we’ve been very good for a long time, can we play together again?
    Now we all look back and laugh at it. But it worked amazingly well. They honestly thought I didn’t know they would sneak in together and play… 😂😂

    Reply

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