By Daniel Scharpenburg
My kids fight with each other.
They’re three years apart and they’ve had quite a struggle over the last few years. I hear a lot of, “He’s being annoying!” and “She’s yelling at me!” and “I want him to stop looking at me!” and “I don’t like the way she’s dancing at me!”
I imagine a lot of parents of multiple kids experience this sometimes.
There’s a wide range of things they do, from the trivial to physically harming each other. “I didn’t hit him, I just tapped him.” (why would ‘tapping him’ be okay?)
“It was an accident.”
Anyway, the worst is when they fight in the car.
I’m driving them around and they’re in the backseat. They look for things to fight about and they don’t like being so close to each other. They can instantly get annoyed with each other and start yelling, which creates an abundance of distraction for me, the driver. Sometimes they want me to get involved in their conflicts. Other times they’re just loudly arguing. Whether they ask me to get involved or not it’s stressful though.
I ask questions like, “Why can’t you just leave each other alone for the next 10 minutes?”
And sometimes things are really frustrating. There are times when one kid is complaining about something trivial the other is doing. Sometimes I will say, “Hey, if what you’re doing is annoying to someone else and it’s not something important…can you change what you’re doing?”
“Change what you’re doing please.”
While I don’t want to encourage nitpicking another kid’s behavior, I think we can also try to learn how to be considerate and not try to irritate each other on purpose. Sometimes it works when I say that, other times it doesn’t. But I really like it.
Change what you’re doing is a good phrase. It’s something we can do when things are going wrong. It’s the advice I give to my kids and I’m wondering if I can apply to my own life too.
Often in life when things are hard, we don’t change what we’re doing. We don’t try to handle problems in different ways. We just keep coming at it over and over in the exact same way.
We tell ourselves things like, “I’m bad at relationships.” “I hate my job.” “I wish I wasn’t so angry all the time.”
And maybe we could ask ourselves regularly: Can I change what I’m doing?
Editor: Dana Gornall