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08 Mar 2003

I have 2 boys, aged 7 & 8, they bicker constantly and it's driving me nuts. Their bedroom constantly looks as if a bomb has hit it, I shout, threaten, have left it looking like a pig sty, but nothing seems to work. Am at the end of my tether trying to get them to keep it looking respectable and with the fighting. Any ideas?
Answer 425 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear ?,
I look forward to seeing what other busy Moms and Dads have to say about this one, from our usual bright and experienced readers ! 2 boys so close in age, are easily able to form an alliance that is had for parents to cope with. Bickering can be awfully annoying for te rest of us to listen to, but usually isn't anything serious, and they're probably enjoying the arguing, jockeying for temporary dominance, and so on. Similarly, boys of that age generally see no problem at all in living in a room that Mom thinks resembles a pig-sty -- tidying it just seems to them to be a waste of time and effort, and they probably can't understand why it seems to important to you.
You may be able to re-establish some forms of discipline, on issues that really matter, firstly by setting some priorities between you and your husband ( so you're consistent, as kids love to divide and rule : "But Mom, Dad said we could...! " ; then by selecting some issues really worth concentrating on, and letting the minor unimpotant ones slip by for now. Then attach to the things you want done, some of the consequences that they see as important. Access to television, computer, games, favourite foods, whatever, can become conditional on good behaviours. The program needs to be worked out and spelled out clearly and unambiguously. Each time they're bickering, for instance, they lose a point, and for every 10 points they accumulate, they lose one day of TV. On the other hand, every time they clean up their room and leave it tidy for at least one whole day, they can remove 2 of those demerit points from the total.
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