Kids on the Porch – My lastest idea to stop the fighting

September 27, 2011

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We have had an epidemic of bickering, fighting, and condescending ‘You’ve got to me the stupidest creature on earth” voices in our house the last few months, and it’s driving me crazy.  At least until I came up with a simple idea to fix it all, with a little help.

I’ve always enjoyed the theory behind the Love and Logic books and would love to be the calm, empathetic parent when my kids misbehave . . . instead of the parent who finally loses it at the 452nd whining, bickering, complaining episode of the day.  “The straw that breaks the camel’s back” is a perfect synopsis of how I lose my temper.

So, in an effort to minimize my camel-back-breaking episodes, I’ve been reading, “Parenting Teens with Love and Logic” (the ‘teen’ part because of the ‘ah-hah’ moments about my 9-year-old girl’s frequent bawling episodes and my 11-year-old’s moodiness.)

So, my husband and I were discussing our frustration with the epidemic of nastiness we’ve had in the house lately.  I said I needed a simple consequence.  It had to be easy to give and not require thinking too hard.  (hey, that’s important at the end of the day.)

I had tried small chores, which resulted in slamming cupboards or other performances that I had a hard time staying calm through.  “Up to the room” usually just moved the fight to the hallway upstairs and I’d end up still having to break it up with an extra flight of stairs thrown in.

Then I had it:  OUTSIDE.

I could just escort the offenders to the front door and shut it behind them while saying in a sad voice, “Oh, what a bummer.  Fighting’s not allowed in this house.  We don’t talk to each other that way in our house.  Kicking your mother is not allowed in this house.  Speaking with that mean tone of voice isn’t allowed in our house.”  The possibilities were endless.

And there’s no time limit.  No forcing them to sit out there.  They’re welcome to come in any time they want to change their behavior.  And the door closing in your face while you’re standing on the front porch is such a powerful object lesson.  Instead of endlessly telling them, I’m showing them:  That kind of behavior isn’t allowed in our house.

How it works:

  • Notice fighting, nasty voice, bickering, disrespect.
  • In an empathetic, sad voice, use the phrase you like.  We use, “Oh, what a bummer.”
  • Identify what they’re doing wrong.  “Speaking in that tone of voice isn’t allowed in our house.”
  • Escort and even carry them out the front or back door and then shut it.
  • They can come in whenever they want, even immediately, if their behavior changes.

So, my husband and I agreed to start the next morning and to my delight I heard a shrieking battle Saturday morning, a calm voice speaking, and then the front door opening and shutting.  After that?  Amazing silence that continued most of the morning.

Is it wrong that I really enjoyed the surprise and shock on their faces?  And we didn’t tell them when they could come back in.  We trusted that they could figure it out.  So, after a few days of this, they either stay outside to rant and rave where I can’t see the show and respond to it, or they pop right back in the house, minus their bad behavior.  I’m loving it.

Combined with this summer’s easy idea to encourage good behavior, we’re making great progress towards a more peaceful home.

If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it works.  Or if you have things that work for you, please share.

. . . and I was just thinking . . . winter is just around the corner.  I wonder how cold it gets on the porch?

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2 Comments so far

  1. docmisty September 27, 2011 4:44 pm

    With my most reluctant schooler, I got some small items like petshop animals, lip gloss, etc. Each one ‘costs’ 15 stickers. And then I would give her a sticker for every single school item she completed, ie. one for reading, one for writing, one for spelling, etc. So it would take her 2 – 3 days to earn an item.

    I’m really trying to add as many rewards as consequences, so it’s not all negative.

    I also make all activities dependent on having school done (the not so fun part). So, she’s missed playdates, been late to birthday parties, etc. because of not having school done. And I try really hard not to yell and berate her about it, instead using the sad empathy – “What a bummer you have to miss the play day because you didn’t get your school done. Let me know if I can help you with any ideas.”

    The stickers worked for a while and then she lost interest – however, she just got the chart out again to earn some lip glosses.

    Good luck!


  2. Melinda Curtis September 27, 2011 1:36 pm

    Any ideas on motivating kids to do their schoolwork? My 7 year old son argues, hides and ignores me when I try to get school started. Everyday it’s a fight. I’ve resorted to telling him I’m going to snap his wii games in half if he doesn’t straighten out. I dread starting everyday knowing that a fight is brewing. I think if I send him outside he would just play out there…LOL

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