Ay. The Kids, They Bug Each Other

one boy about to punch another

Ever have one of those days when the kids seem to spend every waking moment picking at each other? Today was one of those days here at Earnest Parenting. It’s not really sibling rivalry….just irritating the daylights out of each other. First The Mercenary would irritate Captain Earthquake, who would then retaliate by taking a swing at his brother. From there, the cycle of revenge kicked in. The Captain has a tendency to ummmm, hold a grudge.

Either TechnoBoy or The Manager would wander into the fray at which point tempers would really flare and if I hadn’t already been trying to intervene they’d hunt me down to share a list of the latest woes.

Around about 5:30 when we were on the way to soccer, I asked the boys if they’d noticed we had all been sniping at each other all day. Yup, they’d noticed. I asked if they enjoyed it. “Noooooo,” they said.

“Me neither,” I answered.

I’ve noticed lately that a boy with a mission is a happy boy.

Yesterday I was staining some wood for the new stair rail and the little boys asked if they could help. It wasn’t my most favorite idea, but I gritted my teeth and handed over the brushes (after making sure they were dressed appropriately for the job). They had a WONDERFUL time, and didn’t do too terrible a job. You should have heard them chattering and singing while they worked; they were a sight to behold.

Another day that saw a lot of bickering and annoyances I happened to be unloading a lot of groceries. So I started asking for help with things like stacking containers in the pantry and putting vegetables away in the refrigerator.

Oh, and on Saturday it was clear that Captain Earthquake was having troubles. He kept bothering his brothers and starting little fights and squabbles. Normally I can ask him if his love bucket is empty and hug and kiss the ornery behavior away but it wasn’t working. So, I told him his Dad needed help downstairs. Hubby was ready for him with 27 spindles for the new stairs that needed price tags removed. The Captain got busy, delivering a new spindle to Grandpa after each sticker was removed. Grandpa, for his part, made a big deal about how the Captain was working so fast that he couldn’t keep up. There’s nothing like praise from a father figure to brighten up a little boy’s life and it wasn’t long before the smiles turned into giggles and then outright celebration. When the job was finished, the Captain happily trooped upstairs to brag about his success to his brothers.

Time for a new plan.

I’m going to try to have jobs ready for them as often as I can. There’s plenty of ways they can help with home improvement tasks like the staining we did. The older boys are ready to learn some baking this summer. In addition we’re going to crank up their jewelry business again; there’s a farmer’s market in a slightly bigger town that we’d like to try selling from. And of course there are visits with family, going berry picking, to the beach, and all the usual summer activities.

So. That’s the plan. For now. Until something new happens and adjustments are needed. What about you? Have you been through this particular situation with your kids? What did you do about it, and how did things work out?

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of children who bicker.

Image courtesy of Aislinn Ritchie via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Monica B. May 28, 2008, 6:23 pm

    my five year old boy loves to help, same with the 3 year old girl. older ones – not so much.

    my thing is: housework can be a mental downtime and with their chatter, I don’t get that. I want their help, but I need earphones to be content.

    Reply
  • Amy May 29, 2008, 12:27 am

    Hi Monica. I laughed out loud at the chatter comment. That’s so true. I need to record the Manager talking because it’s hilarious….for about 5 minutes. He asked me a question today but kept going on so long that the only way I could answer was to finally interrupt and point out that a 500-word question is difficult to answer.

    They don’t usually drive me too crazy because they all talk to each other, but Hubby and I have frequently talked about how insane it would be to field all that chatter on our own.

    Hey it just occurred to me: what if you played music real loud in the house while they help you with housework? If everyone is dancing their way through chores maybe they won’t be talking so much. Maybe? It’s just a thought that popped into my head. What do you think?

    Reply
  • Scott Harpole September 23, 2013, 2:03 pm

    I desperately need this article. My 12 and 13 yr old boys seem to be constantly finding new ways to drive the other one crazy. It appears that I’ll need to find more projects around the house for them to do.
    Why does it seem that they act so much better when they are someone else’s home? Maybe we should farm them out more often or they could go and visit Amy and work on the spindles with her boys!

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge September 23, 2013, 11:48 pm

      Scott, projects help so much! I have thought long and hard about why they act better around other people, and I think it has to do with how safe they feel with us. In our presence, they are comfortable “letting it all hang out” and when they’re with others, they are more guarded.

      I can’t say that I always take comfort in that thought…especially when I’m grinding my teeth in frustration over whatever the latest battle has become.

      However. They are growing. I do see change and improvement, however minuscule, and I do have hope for the future. When they were toilet training my father-in-law used to say, “Don’t worry! I guarantee they won’t still be in diapers when they’re 16.” And sure enough, he was right! Granted, I didn’t take a lot of comfort in that thought at the time either, but at least now I can look back with better perspective.

      Reply