Hi all, I'm looking for advice on reasonable, simple, valuable and practical consequences to give my 7 y/o twin boys when they get too caught up in their silliness and forget or disregard the rules of the house. For example, some rules they constantly break: We run outside, not inside the house; Inside we use "inside" voices; We don't talk while brushing our teeth; When someone is talking, we wait and listen until they are done before we speak.
I have repeat offenders and I'm tired of constantly reminding them. They know the rules by now. I feel they don't follow through because I haven't given them the appropriate consequences. So, I thought I would get some ideas from other like minded parents.
I would challenge you to change your mindset from consequences to teaching them what they are showing you, what they are having a hard time doing. They are still developing and working on their impulse control. The repeat offender part is not opposition; it is an underdeveloped skill. It feels overwhelming because you have two of the same age in an incredibly chaotic experience. Just reading what you have to say to them feels chaotic. However, impulse control and delay of gratification belongs in the realm of the 9-12 year old and does not fully develop until mid-20's. A practical response for something like running inside the house is stopping the game. Letting them know that for now they have to stop playing because they were not able to remember that running is for the outside. It is about immediate response to what is happening for them rather than saying no TV for a week. Hang in there, continue setting the boundary and "repeating yourself." In good moments play games that help build impulse control like Freeze Dance, Red Light/Green Light, and Simon Says. Play these games as a family and often.
They are having a hard time with delay of gratification and impulse control. In other moments, not when you are setting the boundary, but other moments of reflection (car, dinner, bed time), it is important to tell them how you understand they know the rule of the house, but you also recognize that they are having a hard time controlling their impulses. You can predict for them that the next time they have a hard time with the rules you will stop them with a reminder that at that moment they are not controlling their impulse. Then, follow through. Unfortunately, the "power struggle" and the "conflict" are part of the process of learning the skill. Delaying gratification causes most of us to be irritable and frustrated. The power struggle is the result of guiding them through this process, and unfortunately it is something that has to be embraced. The negative feelings that all of you are feeling are the greatest teachers and necessary for them to practice delaying gratification and controlling their impulses. The biggest culprit and why you see the difference in them now that they are older than 5 is GUILT. They are avoiding guilt and that is what looks like oppositional behavior. They don't want to remember that they are making the mistake again so they avoid or ignore...way more sophisticated than when they were under 4 and would just throw themselves on the ground screaming. Those of you with little ones count your blessings. I would also recommend sitting with your husband and thinking about the rules that they continually break. Do you need all of them? What are they teaching them? How important are they for them to follow?
The example of helping them brush their teeth when they are having a hard time doing it appropriately is a way to educate and help them with their impulsivity. I recommend when they run in the house to walk up to them, stop them, hold them by the shoulders and state, "Buddy I am holding your body because you are having a hard time containing your body and have forgotten that it is not safe to run in the house." Repeat and Remind both until it stops. This assists them in learning. It is not practical, true, but in the long run it STICKS.