My kids are 4 and 6. And they are really best of friends. They play with each other when we are home, they protect each other when we are out, and they make sure the other is always included when new kids are around. But like most siblings, they get on each other's nerves. And when that happens, they pull hair, punch, pinch, bite, hit, kick, throw toys, or whatever else comes to mind.
Annoyingly, I found myself giving time-out after time-out, which did absolutely nothing from stopping them the next time. Isn't the whole point of the time-out so that the kids remember how much they disliked the last one? So they make sure not to do noted bad thing again?
Either I was administering my time-outs wrong or my kids just didn't mind them all that much. Or maybe the time-out was worth it? Being able to get that last pinch in ...
Regardless, I had to come up with another plan — so I decided to pay them not to fight!
And it worked!
It's really quite simple. Every day each kid starts out with three coins (I intentionally use "coins" so I have the flexibility to use whatever I have on hand, pennies one day and maybe dimes the next). I don't give them the coins in the morning; they start out the day knowing that they will receive the coins before bed. And every time one of them slips up, a little pinch here, a tug of the hair there, they lose a coin. This has worked so well that I can now just threaten them with losing a coin and they will stop in their tracks. In fact, I now buy their behavior in other areas as well! If they talk back to me, they lose a coin. If they don't put their clothes in the hamper, they lose a coin. If they ignore me when I tell them it is time to brush their teeth, they lose a coin. And since both of them are so competitive, they try even harder because they don't want to see the other get three coins while they only go to bed with two. Our home is a much happier place.
For the most part they collect their three coins each night ... and the best part is ... they put it in their piggy banks for college. So not only do I have them listening to me, I have set them up a little savings program!
I know at some point they will listen to me because they respect me, not because I am paying them to (at least I hope they will) ... but for now this is working just fine. And, in fact, because of the success we've had with our kids, my sister-in-law started doing it to combat her daughter's incessant whining — and it worked!
How do you keep your kids from going at each other? Any tricks you can share that have helped you keep their behavior in check?