Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parenting Dilemma: need some input!

Scene:  Oldest kid is provoking middle child, one parent is outside hanging laundry (doesn't know what the arguing is about), other parent is upstairs trying to put youngest child to bed for nap. Upstairs parent tells the kids to stop yelling (twice), finally outside parent hears maniacle screaming and drops the laundry and runs in the house to break up the screaming fit.  One look at the face of the parent coming in the house is enough to get the kids (both of them) to stop screaming. 

So: screaming has stopped (by proximity and a really really scary looking face)

But what to do about teaching them how inappropriate it is to 1- instigate and 2- scream like maniacs

What are the consequences to said behaviour?  (ha ha... screaming at the kids might not be what I'm looking for, though it was my first instinct... so easy, yet so stupid in this situation)

Questions: 1) What is the logical consequence for screaming and instigating?
2) Was it caused by lack of parental supervision? (don't forget your reality check though, kids will be in many situations where a grown up just steps out or is out of sight but still hearing distance often.) 
3) What would you do? 


  1. I'd give them the words to speak nicely to each other about their problem and make them practice it right away. Say to them "We say 'May I have a turn with the toy please?'" If the child doesn't want to share, tell them they have five more minutes with the toy and then it's time to share it and then they can each have five minutes. If they can't agree to that the toy goes on the fridge for a time out. Praise their nice talking and sharing and repeat. Make it a teachable moment. As a parent, I totally understand that it's not always easy to remember or think of what to do in the moment. But I also think all kids go through moments of feeling bored or needing attention, and they pick on someone else as way of getting the attention. Negative attention is attention. So it could be that too.

  2. I guess doping them all up with Children's Gravol is out eh??
    1. Depends on what works for each kid (my mom would punish my brother by sending him to his room-he loved being outside, would send me outside-i loved being in my room). I think doing a time out in their room (with a timer for whatever time you feel is needed) and then talking to each one individually and then having both apologize...since both were screaming
    2. No, not caused by lack of parental supervision. Children should be taught how to behave, with or without you present.
    3. I only have one, so what do I know? But growing up, my brother ALWAYS egged me on and I was always the one who got in trouble because my mom would hear ME...so you need to address why the oldest kid is doing that in the first place (boredom, anger at middle child, etc) and work to resolve the main reason, not just the incident...does any of this make sense?

  3. 1) I'd say no playtime or play date or go to bed early

    2) Not sure about this one but maybe an I'm older & bigger than you EGO, and when parents aren't around you do what I say?

    3) I'd let Natalie handle it while I drink a beer and support her efforts 100%

  4. If neither parent was in the room, you can not assume it was the oldest provoking the middle. You can not assume anything. An investigation of sorts should have happened.

    You can not give a logical punishment the way this was left. Screaming and yelling are ways to communicate help is needed.You want kids to communicate,talk, scream and yell, if necessary; but crying wolf is not ok. What seems trivial to a grown up can be great value to a child. Judge with child values the issue is serious to the child or not.Punishing the screamer means they learn to not communicate issues. The screamer needs words, and to know when to ask for a grown up to help.

    A child who is an instigator is usually playing out power roles and finding their place in the pack. Often is a frustrated child with too much expectation on their shoulders. Negative consequences rarely work on a child like this. Your friend above was mentioning positive parenting techniques, and it's about the only way to break through to an instigator. Negative consequences will usually send you backward in your efforts.

    Keeping cool calm and collected could have helped to better dissect the issue. Get to the heart of it and give children the tools to solve this problem. You would have known who the instigator was and be able to help their emotional side to feel more secure so the power plays don't happen.

    In this situation, recognize your anger and frustration. Refuse yourself from yelling. Take five seconds to purge it and become a positive mediator.

  5. Wow, thank you so much for all your great comments! I am blessed to have people who care enough to want to help.