How I got my kids to stop constantly fighting

Yesterday our kids were being jerks. Little a-holes. Douchenuggets. And yes Miss Trolly McTrollypants, I know you think I suck for calling them those things, but it’s true. They were. All day long they fought and fought and fought. And the few seconds they weren’t fighting, they were constantly asking us for shit. Can I have a snow cone? Can I have a candy bar? Can I play on my iPad? Can I have a shark tooth necklace?

And my hubby and I were both like ennnnh, F that. We love you but you’re being jerkwads, and you don’t get jack shit when you’re being jerkwads. Seriously, I must have said the word “no” 9000 times. And it sucked. Partly because it sucks being angry and having to say no over and over and over again, but mostly because we’re on vacation and they should be soooooo grateful that they even get to come to a place like this, but instead they’re being ungrateful butt turds.

And by the time bedtime rolled around, my hubby and I were DONE. D-O-N-E. But right before bed, I did something. I said this to Zoey.

ME: I hope that when we wake up tomorrow, the nice Zoey is back. It makes me sad to see you fighting with your brother so much and I really miss the old Zoey and I’m going to pray that she comes back tomorrow.

And suddenly Zoey’s eyes filled up with tears. She felt awful. I could see her lip quivering, and I knew I’d struck a nerve.

ME: Is something wrong? Do you want to talk about it?

ZOEY: Yes, but not with anyone else around.

So I kicked Holden and my hubby out and I asked her what was wrong.

ME: Is something wrong?

ZOEY: Yes! Holden used to be different. Like I used to be able to say, “Holden, be a puppy,” and he would be a puppy, but now when I say, “Holden, be a puppy,” he says, “No, I want to be a lion.”

Ahhhhh, I see. I thought she was just being a poopyhead but there really was something wrong. And I could see how sad she was about it. Holden used to be this little guy who followed her everywhere and did whatever she said. But not anymore. Now he fights back, now he has an opinion, now he wants to go first, etc etc etc. And this is big shit for an eight-year-old sister.

So I talked to her about it, and she said she misses being his friend and she said she’d try harder the next day. And then I talked to him about it too. And he said he also wanted it to be better. And then we all went to sleep.

And when we woke up this morning, this happened:

And then this:

And then this:

Tadaaaaa, everything is perfect now. Bwhahahaha, just kidding. I’m not stupid. I totally know it’s not gonna stay like this forever and they’re gonna fight again and be douchenuggets and act like little a-holes sometimes, but I feel like for now we kinda hit the reset button. We were running in circles before our big talk– they’d fight, we’d yell no, they be a-holes, we yell knock it off, fight, yell, fight, yell, fight, yell. Until I finally stopped yelling “no” and instead calmly asked “what’s wrong?”

I hope I remember this next time. You know, before I go ballistic on them 9000 times in a day. But for now, I’m just happy they’re getting along again. For the moment.

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There are 22 comments for this article
  1. Becky Doerfler at 7:50 pm

    Wow- that was really smart! And I’m not being a snarkypants. I mean it. We had five kids and my husband used to say he could hear me yelling a half block away. It takes time to stop and do what you did; I wish I had taken that time more often.

  2. Keshia Deuesenberry at 8:06 pm

    Awe this is great. The pictures are so sweet. I hope my kids will get along at some point. I get it. I have 2 little douchenuggets!!!! They fight constantly and I hate yelling at them all the time. My 7 year old daughter is so emotional sometimes. She will fight over what bathing suit to wear or shorts anything!!! So I don’t feel like a complete failure if a mother when others feel like this too lol.

  3. Heather at 8:35 pm

    She’s looking at me! Well, she told me to shut up! She said she’s smarter than me! She’s still looking at me! OMG! I feel your pain. A 9 year old and a 10 year old. Maybe it’s a full moon. Summer scheduling kicks into high gear on Monday…lol. Free time at the moment is killing us. They have started saying they are soooooooooooooooo bored. Drives me crazy!

    • Andrea at 9:04 pm

      I don’t personally have kids but my parents did this for my younger brother and myself when we were kids, and it worked perfectly. They say they’re so bored, give them a chore to do, pretty quick they’ll work together to find something to do to entertain themselves. My brother or myself would come up to our Mom like “I’m so bored, there’s nothing to do” (looking back on it now at 27 there was always plenty to do around the house for fun) so my Moms response, “you’re bored, ok, this toilet needs cleaning, here’s gloves, and all the supplies, off you go” and pretty quick we were like “Oh, I just thought of something to do” and just run off, she was never mad at us for running off, I know now she chose that particular chore because it was the least fun one in the whole house, and would prompt us to find something to do very quickly.

  4. Elizabeth Motta at 9:02 pm

    Omg- my 3 and 4 year olds have these days and it drives me freaking bonkers. Just dawned on me that this is exactly what’s going on with my daughter. Thank you so much for the revelation!

  5. Rebecca at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. We ALL have those days. Anyone who says they don’t is not being truthful. Most times it is very difficult for me to keep it together and not be reactive. There almost always is a reason for the bad behavior and I appreciate the reminder and relatability of your post. So important to be mindful & present. Thank you and well done!

  6. Janet Siembor at 12:19 am

    Loved the tip, however, didn’t love your choice of vocabulary. I’m a Christian, and the Bible is my standard, therefore, I’m making every effort to live my life accordingly. We must all do our best to be a light and to set an example for our children in every area of life, including speech.
    If you agree, I’d love to hear from you to discuss this further. If not, I’ll pray for you to have a change of heart.

    • Ann at 4:58 pm

      I am a Christian too and if Babysideburns chooses to write the way she does it’s her business step off your platform and realize you are human like the rest of us! She has no need to address you! If you don’t like it don’t read!

    • Crystal at 8:44 pm

      Janet Siembor, I’m assuming that you have a Graduate’s Degree in “Moral Superiority” because you are a MASTER at your occupation. What’s your BS in; “Santimonious Behavior”?

    • BabySideburns at 10:15 am

      I’m a Jew (random but since we’re announcing our religions…) and I like to curse like a sailor when I’m speaking to adults. My blog is for grownups. If it offends you, I apologize. There’s plenty of clean stuff to read on the internet for people who don’t like curse words.

      • Erin Delmore at 12:33 pm

        I second this – good for you, Karen! You rock, your choice of words is spot on for your audience and anyone who Doesn’t like it can read another blog (but I bet they won’t enjoy it as much because you’re hilarious AF!). The morality police should check herself because I’m sure she’s used a curse word or 2 in her life too…. sometimes a curse word is the best adjective (or adverb or noun or w/e – I’m not an English major obviously) to describe a situation, especially when it comes to parenting or life in general… You’re just tellin’ it like it is and anyone with kids can confirm this when they read (and relate to) your blog (whether they want to admit it or not). Never stop being who you are or change how you write because of Janet McJudgy-Pants and others like her (and I know you won’t because you rock like that). 😉

        Separately, I loved this post – I only have 1 child (he’s 2) right now, so I don’t deal with fighting yet (thank god!), but that you switched tactics and it worked so well was inspiring to someone who’s considering having a second child and not sure how to deal with things like sibling fighting and just raising multiple kids in general. Basically, I read your blog religiously (pun?), and I hope I can be as good a mom as you are as I continue my slightly new-ish journey in parenthood.

        Lastly – if anyone hasn’t bought all books written by Babysideburns, I strongly suggest getting one (or all) ASAP. You’ll thank me (and her) later, I promise. 🙂 So insightful, true, funny and extremely Validating for anyone with children.

  7. Cara at 12:19 am

    Oh my goodness I bet this is why my little ahole is being a mega j**k to his little sister!! She’s almost 5 and now has input into what games they play, which characters they’re pretending to be and doesn’t take orders like she used to. Thank you!!!!

  8. Teri Su Garske at 7:01 am

    Thank you for sharing! Made me have an awwwwww moment! (with tears of course!). What I’ll take from this is to stop and ask why my kid she is acting like a b**t instead of getting stressed out about it.

  9. Kathy at 7:36 am

    Yes communication is key. But I don’t understand though is why you communicate to your readers with your foul language. I was told a long time ago that people that curse and use foul language are uneducated and can’t articulate properly so they use foul words to get their message across. Yes the trend today to talk that way but to me it’s offensive. And I’m not even old. I just hope you don’t use that sort of language in front of your children because eventually they won’t even respect you.

  10. S. Rieser at 8:05 pm

    You are so wise! I can’t turn the clock back for my kids so I’ll remember it for my Grandkids. Hope it works on husbands, too!

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