When I wrote the last post about losing my temper, I was right in the middle of the situation. I was so angry! The good news is I’ve calmed down and can share with you a few lessons I learned. If you get a chance, check out the comments from that post. Mary’s advice in particular is excellent.
The first order of business after the blow-up was to calm down. Considering that two small boys started having a leap-off-your-bed contest while I was typing angrily, this was easier said than done. Typing out the blog post helped, as did about 20 minutes of a mindless computer game.
After I had achieved a reasonable level of stability I tried talking to the younger boys. Unfortunately it quickly devolved into another lecture so I had to take more time out to settle.
Eventually I was able to talk to each boy individually, calmly, and with love in my heart. I apologized to them. I talked to the older boys second (they were wisely hiding in their bedroom), explaining that while I knew they hadn’t been pouty/grumpy, I still held them a bit responsible for the problems because the little guys were simply acting exactly as they’ve seen big brothers do for years. I suggested that they come up with a solution.
TechnoBoy found me a few minutes later and said that they’d agreed that if they were being grumpy, I should assign them a chore and they’d have to do it without getting paid. (We have a list of optional chores they can do for pay whenever they want.) That was a great idea and I told him so. The problem is that it still puts me in the position of police officer, which I hate. I’d have to decide if they were being pouty, I’d have to decide what chore to do, and I’d have to enforce it. Not fun.
On a positive note, I really haven’t had big grumpiness issues with them over school this year. A few frowns here and there, but I have no issue with that. Everybody has times where they don’t feel like working.
The solution for the younger boys was much easier: if a boy is grouchy or pouts or whines then he would lose either TV or computer or Wii time for the entire day. No additional warnings will be given.
And then I told them no computer for Thursday.
I further explained that by “no computer” I meant no looking at a computer, no touching a computer, no sitting by while your brother plays on the computer….no computer. At all. They took that pretty well overall. I did have to remind them later, but because there were other things to do the consequence was perceived as painful but not life-threatening.
Friday was amazingly wonderful. We did have tempers fraying a little bit in the evening (them, not me), but boys managed to be cheerful and cooperative all day, or at least calm.
So. What did I learn?
- Time outs are a good thing, especially for grown-ups.
It is loving and logical that boys earn a consequence for misbehavior.
Having a consequence in place in advance can generate peace. Everyone knows what to expect, which means no arguing about the results of actions.
One area I have not mastered yet is building a team spirit for the family.
Praying helps, and more praying is a good plan for me.
Oh, I had to tell Hubby everything that happened, including my part. He had a long talk with the little guys, then the Mercenary. After that he called TechnoBoy over and congratulated him on surviving the day without causing much trouble. 🙂
The team building thing is an area I’d like to improve in right now. It’s not something that will happen overnight, and I wonder if maturity is part of the equation. So what else would you do?
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who are trying to handle losing their tempers.
Oh, and for the record when I say a boy should get a consequence for being pouty/whiny/grumpy, I don’t mean just a bad mood. What I’m talking about is knock-down, drag-out fighting the day….throwing yourself on the floor and refusing to cooperate…crying when something fun is suggested….just generally completely shut down. I completely understand someone waking up and feeling a little off here and there, or not wanting to have school. Heck, I feel like that from time to time. 🙂
You pretty much covered all the bases. I like the part about having a plan in place ahead of time. Very democratic too, allowing them to help with decisions. I wonder how you feel about discussing with young kids (age 7) about the plan for getting out of the car fast if a carjacker stops you? Is it too traumatic for them to contemplate or is that good time to be prepared too? I would really value your opinion on this.
Ohhhh, trust me. There is most definitely something I’ve missed, and the children will find that detail sooner or later, lol. Universal rule of parenting.
We live in a super small town where carjacking is unheard of, so I haven’t discussed that directly with the boys. However, I’ve talked for years about “bad guys” in general and we have strategies in place for different scenarios. The boys know to hit, bite, scratch, and fight if they’re grabbed, and to scream bloody murder. If they haven’t been caught, they’re supposed to scream bloody murder and run like the wind.
It’s difficult to decide when to talk to your kids about all that scary stuff. I always couched it in less frightening terms when I could, because I don’t need them to spend their lives in fear. Most of the time testosterone kicks in and they tell me how they’ll beat up said attacker. I’d rather they just run. I’ll have to mention the carjacking thing, as it’s a new one for us.
I think you have to prepare your child as much as you can without frightening him or her. If they’re accustomed to obeying your commands, they’re much more likely to get out of a dangerous situation safely by following your directions. So build trust and cooperation whenever you can. If you make games of things, they’re learning reflex actions that can kick in and save them in a pinch as well. Play wrestle with them and show them how to get out of various grasps, then challenge them to do it. All in play of course. Then should the worst happen they’ll break free without a second thought because they’ve played it so often it’s second nature.
Wow – great blog and great bart work too! Now don;t lose your temper (just kidding) but I do have a request
I have started a new blog focused on the funny and often thought provoking things kids say using their own set of “logic” and thought.
It is called http://www.logicalkid.com.
I am reaching out to blogs like yours and inviting you to share some of your own fun stories where kids say and express themselves.
I will, of course, link back to your blog.
To submit – just comment on any post or send me an email to
Thanks and I hope to hear from you!
ps – I voted for you in the Blogger Choice Awards!
This is one of the first blogs I’ve came across that I’ve found pretty interesting, I like to get some good advice from normal people like me and you 🙂
I like to play video games to calm myself down, takes a lot of stuff off your mind 🙂
Thanks a lot!
Thank you so much for the compliment and the vote! Logical Kid looks like a really nice blog! I’ll keep my eye out for a new story for you. So far I think I’ve put them all on this blog. There was one post called Fine Toothed Comb that would have been ideal. 🙂
Hope to see you around the Internets!
Oliver, thank you! And welcome to our growing community of friends. I like video games too. 🙂 There hasn’t been time to play them much as of late, but I’m hoping the schedule will allow more play sometime soon.