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.
Would a book on tape work? Great classic children’s tales from the library might be more entertaining than a constant repetition of the same children’s CD. I’ve noticed boredom being a lead in to behavior problems with my very naughty almost two-year-old too. Haven’t yet figured out how to stop it, but one thing I’ve done is had her help me with almost every household task I must do when I’m not playing with her.
Yes, books on CD work well. (It’s a good reminder, though– It really is time for a library trip.) My children do, however, like to hear the same books repeatedly. Even though it’s not exceptionally interesting to me, they seem to grasp more when they hear a book more than once. I’m amazed at how important responding to boredom is. I remember, and then I forget. I’ve been forgetting. 🙂
We’ve had great success with books on CD. We traveled about 20 minutes each way once a week to science class and listened to Alice in Wonderland, Through the looking glass, and a few more I found at the library. It’s boredom at home I struggle with. I don’t want them to always think the answer to boredom is doing work with mom. I’ve tried setting up projects for them to do but they are still at the age where it takes more time from me away from what I need to do so I may as well just do something with them. I struggle a lot with this.
Boredom at home… I know what you mean (although our new street has children on it, so I’ve been thinking about boredom outside more than inside these days). One thing I’ve been trying to do is look for “things to make and do” books in the library and second hand book stores. That way, I can send them to a book when they are wandering around aimlessly.
We’ve not had too much of this, but occasionally. Our biggest problem is when we load up and they fight over who sits where. The older two are out of car seats/boosters and both want to sit in the back of the van. We moved them to the middle with the two little ones way back, but that is so unhandy to unbuckle the youngest.
Yes, we’ve had those discussions, too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Sometimes it’s nice to see that others have the same challenges we do. 🙂