I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. Sometimes my kids get along great, but like most sometimes they clash. I've been trying to work on substitutions to my usual model of rewards and punishments for many of my conventional parenting techniques. This one seems to exhaust my fuse faster than most. It is during those times that my rational brain caves in favor of a quick fix. Usually, I justify this as getting me back to whatever task I'm doing. When there is no conspicuous cause, and I need to get back to the task at hand; the frequency seems to increase exemplifying my technique's failure.
I've tried for these situations to be more than negligent on my part. Sometimes, I will give them a task to share, but I also believe they should have idle time.
I understand that kids have good days and bad, and also that some of this may be a request for attention. I'm really looking to step my game up with some new ideas. Here are some techniques I use, that I'd like to transcend:
- Timeout (punishment) - This is a quick way to get some separation, and (if I can quickly determine the culprit) get the child to spend some time reflecting on their actions.
- Privilege suspension (punishment) - This is very hit and miss. I typically have better luck with other options.
- Lecture (punishment?...) - I'll try to talk through the situation, listen to sides, pick a winner, mansplain things until their eyes glaze over. This is the most dubious for me as I tend to struggle with bloviating. I'm coming from a place of truth-seeking, and validation. I want them to feel listened to, and understood, but then I generally pick all the low hanging fruit of lesson opportunity.
- Offer a reward - I understand that doing this can create a dependency I don't want to sustain.
- Placating (distraction) - Give them something else to do, maybe change their environment, perhaps split them up, or call in spousal reinforcement.
- Crazy exercises (distraction/punishment) - For instance; write 3 nice things you like about your sibling.
Maybe I'm too impatient for natural consequences, or simply unfamiliar inside the experience of my own up upbringing. After a while it starts to feel like the attention alone seems to be both punishment, and reward. I recently started to lecture them on this causal relationship and the resultant wasted time impacting the whole family. It sure would be nice if knocking their heads together worked as well as it should.