reestablishing peace

We've had a rough patch of days this past week, and I should have seen it coming, but I didn't.  The standard for behavior was gradually slipping, and before I could put my finger on why we were all becoming so miserable, we hit bottom.  I woke up one day and no words were spoken by the boys without a whiny tone, no disagreements resolved without full-on fisticuffs, and no disappointments met with anything besides tears and tantrums.  It was horrible!  And it wasn't just a fluke bad day.  During the next several (awful) days I tried to fight it and restore order, but my efforts were met only with the worst kind of loud, angry, tearful resistance. 

A few nights ago, totally defeated, I declared to Kevin that I was done.  Just a few weeks ago at grandma's house, we'd been patting ourselves on the back for boys well-taught, how did we come to this so quickly?  They were the WORST little set of imps I'd ever seen and I felt more outnumbered than ever.

So. After much discussion, we decided it was time to turn the tide. The next morning over breakfast, I outlined the four behaviors I would no longer tolerate:

1. Whining in any form
2. Not listening the first time
3. Fighting
4. Crying/Flipping out

If you do any of these things, I told them, you will sit on a chair for 2 minutes (more if the action warrants it).  If you cry or whine or even talk while on the chair, I'll add a minute.  If you don't stop, you'll get an X. 

{Getting an X has somehow become the worst punishment imaginable around our house, and I don't know why.  All that takes place is I write an "X" on a paper next to their name.  Thats it.  But for some reason, they HATE to get an X.  They'll beg a plead and offer anything to prevent me from writing one.  On occasion I'll say something like "if you get 3 Xs today, you won't get to..." But most of the time, it's not attached to anything...I don't get why it's so effective, but I'll take it.}

I wasn't looking forward to actually following through every time.  I was already worn out from the horrific days before.  The first whining came about 30 seconds later, followed in regular succession for the next few hours.  To my surprise, though, the boys often submitted fairly peacefully to their punishments.  By the time I picked Jack up from school, I would already see that we were on the right track.  No one had an X, but both Noah and Taylor had each spent a considerable amount of time on chairs.  Jack whined only once before he saw that I wasn't having any more of it.  We had a peaceful lunch and not one (major) flip out all day. 

It's been about 5 days now and *thank heaven* things are much improved. 

I love these little boys always, but it's a lot easier to love them when they know their boundaries=)

post script: for some reason I can't leave comments on my own blog...anyone else struggling with this?  Maybe you can't answer that because you can't leave a comment on my blog either.  Anyway, what I would comment is this: Yes, we give them smiles for being good (stickers sometimes, too), Xs for being naughty.  They love to see a paper filled with only smiles, so I think that is the biggest motivation.  They don't want to tarnish their good report, or have their brothers have more smiles or fewer Xs.=)  It's funny that it matters so much.  In truth, I have a really hard time actually writing an X and most days we don't have any because, in general, they really are trying.


  1. I wish you had been around to coach me when my sons were small. That very list was what drove me nuts. I like the X idea too. I guess it is similar to getting a star by their name if they do something good. My boys would LOVE to get a star. I would have used the X idea too if I had thought of it.

  2. That whole X thingy is too funny!

    And good job, busy, worn out Mom!

  3. I am stealing the X idea -- it's really great!

    Natalie is such a cute name -- it's making a surge again!


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