In a week's time, my older son had walked on his younger brother's back, hit him on his chest, pushed him, and had a tugging match with him for a toy. His younger brother had kept accurate records and he was out for blood. With arms flailing one day he gave his older brother enough slaps that he would never need a spanking for the rest of his life! Sounds like abuse? Well it was! I had to have a talk with these two knuckleheads before they put me in the hospital with a stress-related illness. I also had to evaluate what was I doing and not doing that kept the crazy behavior up.
I had been attentive. We played games during winter break, spent time talking, and doing some constructive things. We sang, prayed, and went places. The boys got new toys and great meals. So what was wrong?
When I disciplined Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, I told them what I was taking from their room. That hurt far worse than any other form of discipline. Oh they cried, fell down--acted like fools! Little by little, I did just what I said until there was nothing more than a small bin, two beds, and two dressers, and one television in their shared room. The IPhones and gaming systems were put on a shelf for a time until they earned them back. It was quite easy to rid the children's room of many of their things since we were moving anyway soon after winter break, but even if we hadn't, the room was still going to be relatively bare. Less stuff, less fuss.
Anyway, what were these boys thinking hitting each other like boxers? They were in, what appeared to be, blind rages during their outbursts. They were overwhelmed with pending change and needed an outlet. So I encouraged them to separate from one another. One would take some time alone in the backyard while the other had the room to himself. Then when the other came in the home, the other would go out. When both were in the house once again, I set one up on the computer while the other played a music instrument with ear phones on. I rotated the two little monsters like chairs. I didn't want to see my sons together in one room. The only time they had spent any real time with one another was at the dinner table. The next day I did the same as before, rotated them like playing a game of musical chairs, and the next more of the same and so on. I must say that the winter break ended quite well. Back to school, thank God!
Sometimes all it takes is space. Everyone needs a little space. "Go play in your room..." we say. Well that isn't good enough. Are you going in there too, Parent? Most likely not. So Jenny and Joan or Billy and Bobby are going to pound one another in one way or another whether verbally or physically as soon as you turn your back!
The signs of being tired of one's sibling and parents are always there with children. Sometimes we see them, other times we don't. You know when they are tired of the family, when there is constant complaining about one or all members, yelling, fighting, crying, etc. Throw in hunger, thirst, a lack of sleep, and your own tension and look out, your children will act up!
My two angels had turned into monsters practically overnight, but I could turn them back--at least somewhat. I had been praying before, during, and after the commotion, I can tell you when God has given you common sense, you have got to use it!
Sometimes we can become so busy, selfish, moody, or whatever else that is going on with us that we overlook the writing on the wall when it comes to raising sons and daughters. Children need time apart periodically just like us with spouses, bosses, parents, friends, etc. before or after we have had a major dispute. No adult interference, no sharing with a sibling, no nothing, but a simple room with not much in it but a favorite toy. Is that too much to ask, mom, dad?