Parenting K-6 Kids/Parenting my boys

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Question
Hi Leslie, I am a Mom to 5 boys ages, 20, 9, 8, 6, and 3. Home is so chaotic! I don't know where things went so wrong. When they were younger the boys had a bedtime routine (which they adhered to), we did family craft/game times, and the boys didn't fight (like they do now). It has gotten to the point that when they together all they do is bicker and aggravate. Game night is a thing of the past because of they just argue the whole time. They are all of different personalities and clash terribly. What's worse is somewhere along the way we lost their routines. My ideal home is one where the children do chores, go to bed (without fighting about it at a reasonable time, and stop bickering as much as they do. Right now it seems impossible to get there. We are very busy with baseball and drama camps, and such, but I want to make room for more peace in our house. I feel like all I do is yell and referee. Any ideas/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, KC

Answer
Hi KC,
It sounds like you had order at one time, so you can get it back. The question is, what did you do then that worked?

It sounds like you're so busy that maybe personal connections are getting lost. The thing is, you have to offset the constant ordering, coercing and yelling with positive interaction.  So while you're working to set firm boundaries, also work to reconnected personally with each child. That might mean playing a game with just that one child or having a talk. The goal is to let the child choose the activity/conversation. This builds self esteem and often improves behavior.

You didn't specify your bedtime routine, but 3 and 6 year olds should have a different bedtime than 9 and 8 year olds. You could have a routine whereby the younger ones get time with you and go to bed. Once they're in bed you have time for the older boys. You can visit with the 20 year old once the 9 and 8 year old are in bed.

Finally, you need to find interventions that you can enforce. You have to remember that these kids have had a lot of time to develop their behavior. It won't change in one day. So you need to be strong and stick to your guns. For example, if they don't go to bed on time tonight, they have to go to bed 30 minutes earlier the next night (this won't work as well with the 3 year old as he has no concept of time). Then do it. And if your child doesn't go to bed right the next night, he goes to bed 30 minutes earlier the next day. Some times kids will test you and you'll end up sending him to bed one night at 5:30... but he'll get the message. Further, if they don't go to bed, they have to at least stay in bed or in their rooms.

This is just an example. You need to find what works for you and your family. A parenting class or book can be helpful in getting all sorts of strategies. But the basics are set your boundary and hold for as long as it takes for it to work. If you cave, you'll have a very difficult time getting the kids to believe you mean business.

Leslie Truex, MSW  

Parenting K-6 Kids

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Leslie Truex

Expertise

I am a parent of two, but also I'm a social worker with over 15 year experience working with children and families. I can provide many tips and techniques to help with child behavior, interventions for specific behavioral issues, ideas to help children through difficult times such as divorce or grief, hints on keeping the family running smoothly, and tips for developing confident, happy children.

Experience

I have a master's in social work and over 15 years experience working with children and families. I have worked in schools, public health, mental health and adoption agencies providing parent education courses and children's groups.

Education/Credentials
BA in Psychology and MSW.

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