I'm struggling with something that I thought I'd share with you all to get some insight and advice.
Yes, I'm struggling with Ben. ;)
Seriously, though, we've come to a point where we need to nip some of Ben's behavior in the bud. So for the last week or so we've stopped just ignoring some of his bad behavior (we've been following the "pick your battles" school of parenting) and really lay down the law for everything.
That means we've had a hell of a week. Everything is a struggle. If you tell him to look left, he wants to look right. If you ask him to eat his dinner he'll ask for breakfast. If you tell him to take a bath he'll take a shower. He's just a strong-willed stubborn and oftentimes difficult child.
So we've been working hard on making him listen, telling him when behavior is unacceptable, correcting his behavior when he is unkind or not playing nicely, making him eat his dinner, brush his teeth, go to bed when we say, etc. etc.
Basically we've been yelling a lot. And punishing a lot. It's not fun. And I'm not even sure it's working.
But that's another story.
Today we've decided to take another approach and focus on the positive. We've created a sticker chart for times when he does good things and will give him some reward or alone time with us when he gets a certain number of stickers.
But that's another story, too.
What I really wanted to talk about is how we often find ourselves in a situation where we want to punish one child and the punishment ends up inevitably punishing the other. For example, the other day I told the kids we could have ice cream. But then Ben misbehaved and without thinking it through I told him that if he didn't stop he couldn't go for ice cream. He didn't stop and I was left in a bind. Do I cancel the ice cream trip because Ben had it taken away? If so, then Matthew gets punished even though he was not being bad.
Similarly tonight when we started the sticker chart Ben was being so great. I told him he could get to pick some sort of reward when he earned enough stickers. Matthew overheard me and asked if he could have a reward, too.
Has anyone ever had this problem? How do I find creative ways to punish or reward one child without "spillover" onto the other child? Or do I just teach them now that life isn't fair and sometimes we get the short (or long) end of the stick?