Where’s my mob cap?

There’s been a lot of fighting around here recently. A lot of fighting. Sibling fighting. Kids fighting parents. Parents fighting, well, large glasses of scotch.

Today, landisdad and I took extreme measures.

We called our first family meeting. Unfortunately, we’re not very creative, so we had to crib the agenda from a Berenstain Bears story. We made a similar chart. What can I say?

  • Calling names: dust the family room
  • Using bad language: wash the kitchen table
  • Throwing things: clean the bathroom sinks
  • Hitting/pushing/etc.: weed the garden for 20 minutes
  • Refusing a time out: dust the living room
  • Threatening to hurt someone: pick up toys in the basement
  • Sharing: get a sticker on the family fun chart
  • Getting along for a whole day: extra half-hour of tv
  • Using words, calmly, to tell someone you’re angry: extra story at bedtime

I also made the kids sign a piece of paper that says, “Our family will try as hard as we can to treat each other with love and respect.” Sort of a mission statement, if you will.

So far, we’ve got a cleaner family room, spick-and-span sinks, and and a slightly less-weedy front yard (happily, it’s the end of summer, so not much is left living except the mums and the asters). The Potato, guilty on all counts. Both of the kids did manage to earn an extra story for tonight, though, and the Bee helped the Potato accomplish most of his chores.

What we didn’t have was any major outbursts from the Bee, which was sort of my main goal.

We’ll have to see what happens over the long haul. One of the most important things I’ve learned from parenting is that any discipline strategy can work in the short term, on sheer novelty value if nothing else. I’m tired of dishing out punishments that are both a) too punitive and b) too ineffective. It’s made me think about work, and how kids used to have to do so much more of it. Not in an “in my day” kind of way, but way, way, back in the day. The Bee’s a little young, but only a little, to have been sent into the mines, or the sweatshop, or to milk Old Bessie. I bet those kids came home too tired to fight with each other.


September 10, 2006. thoughtful parenting, work.


  1. Lady M replied:

    Good luck with the plan! I love it that you cribbed from a kids book. At least the B-Bears are supposed to be educational. Sometimes I find myself saying something like, “Well it worked for in , it should work for us!”

  2. Phil replied:

    Oh wow, I could’ve written this post (just not as well)… We’ve had a hard week with my son who has suddenly become extremely defiant and argumentative. I don’t understand why. It’s like he went to bed an 8-year-old and woke up a teenager.

    I’d love to write about it on my blog, but my damn mother-in-law is always snooping around and would love to point out that his behavior is a result of me being a bad father. So, no ammunition for her. But I will read the comments you get on this post and see how I can fit them in with my situation.

    What I’ve done so far was rather drastic… I cleaned out my son’s room. And when I say “cleaned out” I mean I emptied it out. Except for a few books and his clothes, all the toys, comics, figures, models, etc. are boxed up. I told him that these things are a privilege, not an entitlement, and he needs to earn them back. Not sure if this will work….

    Also, we’ve talked frequently about showing respect and appreciation. I reminded him that he is not an equal to his mother and me. He says he’s “tired of Daddy’s lectures!” I tell him he won’t hear my lectures if he shows respect. It’s like a Catch-22. Oh well.

  3. Kimberly replied:

    Oh, man, I hate that story! Diva Girl makes me go through the whole list every time we read it.

    Sorry you’ve had a screamy week and apparently the kind of day that leads to a tidy home. Hopefully the novelty will wear off into co-operative, well behaved children.

    And yeah, lately it’s the Toddler Formerly Known As Zen causing the problems while Diva Girl sails serenely through her days. What the heck is up with that?

  4. Comfort Addict replied:

    I’m sorry to hear of your discord. I hope that there will be harmony soon.

  5. chichimama replied:

    Sounds like it (sort of?) worked? How did the “ounishments” worth with the Potato? I’ve been wanting to try a similar thing but thought A couldn’t actually quite get it or do the chores…

    I’ll be very curious to see how this works out for you.

    Oh, and I had to pull from the Bears as well to cut down on TV. I’m starting to think we will have to read more of those books despite my hatred of them….

  6. chip replied:

    wow does this sound familiar! I think that clear expectations and consistency are key. I’ve found it so hard sometimes to be consistent, especially when I’m tired and it would be easier to let things slide. And I’ve done that sometimes, but it comes back to haunt. And yeah, doing chores is a nice way to kill two birds with one stone.

  7. Suzanne replied:

    When my kids are just a little older I think this might be an approach to try — then I could combine my proclivity toward laziness and my desire to have more tranquility on the homefront!

    Let us know how it works.

  8. Anjali replied:

    Sounds like a grand approach. I’ve been trying to reduce my 4-year olds routine fighting words and outbursts for months now. The lowpoint was when I read 1-2-3 Magic, implemented it to a T, only to realize that I spent the next several days doing nothing but counting. Hope your method gives you long term results.

  9. Lady M replied:

    Just realized that part of my comment above was missing because I used the wrong kind of brackets! It should say:

    Good luck with the plan! I love it that you cribbed from a kids book. At least the B-Bears are supposed to be educational. Sometimes I find myself saying something like, “Well it worked for in (fictional character on a planet other than earth), it should work for us!”

  10. Kate the Shrew replied:

    Sorry you’ve had that kind of week. I really hope that works for you guys, in the long term, as I will then crib it from you!

  11. Jennifer (ponderosa) replied:

    My kids are going through a surprisingly tranquil period (it’s lasted about the 3 weeks now), so I can’t hear you, la la la…

    I did a sticker chart with my son and it worked for awhile — until, as you say, the novelty wore off and he didn’t care a whit for stickers anymore.

    I love the chores idea, let us know how it works. Do you have to supervise their work?

    Hey, is the fighting related to new schools? Kids under more stress w/ that?

  12. cloudscome replied:

    You are right about the novelty part. About three weeks for anything works really well. I always thought that B. Bears idea would only work if everyone cheerfully agreed to do the extra chores like Papa Bear does. When I tried giving Buster a pretty little bowl full of folded slips of paper containing fortune cookie-like extra chores to pick from if he neglected to do his regular chores without my nagging, he scoffed at me. Like I could get him to do extra chores when the problem was he wasn’t doing his regular chores!! LOL I guess I got the strategy wrong there…

  13. Leggy replied:

    I’ve found that going back to school (all 3 days of it) have helped a lot with my son’s attitude. I think he was just bored to tears. Now the intellectual stimulation wears him and he’s too tired to fight me all the time. I hope it stays this way!

  14. home again « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] I thought I’d give a report-back on my post of last weekend. Seems like it partially worked, and partially didn’t work, during the week that I was away. Today, the fighting had definitely decreased, but I’m not sure if it’s just because the kids are relieved that I was finally home or what. We did end up reading two extra stories (one per kid) and having extra tv. Last night though, the Potato had to go to bed early due to his disruptive behavior. […]

  15. Bizimama replied:

    I really like your disciplinary ideas! As a working mom, and WAHM, I plan to use some of these strategies to have my family help me with the never ending chores around the house! (LOL)


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