I noticed a week or so ago a new pattern of behavior in the car.
David and Bethel sit together in the back. By and large, they get along well, and they tend to resolve their conflict when they are irritated with each other.
Lately, though, they’ve developed this entertainment that is basically poking each other until somebody is unhappy and yells stoppit. It’s not one child tormenting the other. Both children do their share of poking, and they both know how to push their sibling to the end of their tolerance levels. It is distracting and unpleasant behavior, and even though they claim the poking is fun, it really isn’t. Moreover, I really don’t want to develop wrestling habits between my son and daughter.
I’ve been trying to decide how to handle this. Should I separate these two? Start handing out consequences for wrestling and teasing? How do I prevent them from forming habits of behavior that may cause them grief later on? These are good questions, but I see now that they were focused on finding a solution, not motives and contributing factors.
Lee noticed first that the problem seemed to be boredom; so he suggested that I read to the children when we’re all in the car. As we suspected, the children are much better behaved when they are listening to a story. That works well when we’re all together.
I can’t read and drive at the same time, though. I’ve been trying to pay better attention to when they’re disruptive in the car, and how I can respond by giving their minds something to do.
I’ve noticed that when I take the time to engage in conversation with them, they are better behaved. I’ve been consciously getting them to sing with me. Playing common travel games works too, anything that makes them think. I want to help them understand why they are happier when they’re not bored. We’ll see how they do.