Stop Acting Your Age!

Kids would behave if they would just stop acting their age.

We were in our early twenties when we had our first-born son. He was an angel, so disciplined, easy-going and well-behaved. We decided 7 years later to add to our family thinking this parenting stuff was easy. Boy, were we wrong. The two younger ones were the Universe’s payback for thinking so. They’re 21 months apart so they’re close enough in age to play and scheme together. One would tell the other to do this or that… and there we go, a tornado awaits. Plain and simple, they’re terrorists, especially when other people are around. Get them alone and it’s a crap shoot on whether they would act up or not. They feed off each other’s energy and it turns into a perfect storm of chaos. The parenting experts tell us that reacting to bad behavior is negative reinforcement, but it’s hard to reward good behavior when all you notice are the bad ones.

olivia_avaMy girls are the epitome of the sour patch gummy bears. At first they’re sour, then they’re sweet. They will, metaphorically, kick you in the shins and then give you a big hug and kiss after, but I can’t resist to love them completely for fooling me over and over again. They say love is blind, right? Sometimes, I’ll get so mad at them all I see is “red”, but then I stop myself and realize, that they are just kids. You have to tell kids 10 billion times to, brush your teeth, wash your hands, stop yelling, stop running, leave your brother alone, eat over your plate, or chew with your mouth closed. Thinking back, as a kids we did the same things. We didn’t brush our teeth, wash our hands, used our indoor voice, walked calmly, left our brother alone, ate above our plates or chewed with our mouths closed. Only grownups (usually) did these simple things without being told. So, when my kids start acting up, the rational person inside me says, “She’s 3 years old. This is how 3 year olds behave.” and “She’s 5 years old. This is how 5 year olds behave.” For them to stop this “bad behavior”, we’d have to tell them, “Stop acting your age!”

One time, we drove to Washington to visit family and it was a cliché moment with “kids acting up” and “father flipping out”. I can’t even remember what our middle child, Ava, was doing but Daddy turned around and yelled, “I will stop this car and turn around!” He got so frustrated and tripped over his words as he uttered, “Stop being so… ba… ba… ba… bad!”

I tried to hold it in but I just turned red and without air, I couldn’t help but to laugh aloud and so did the kids. It took Daddy a few steps backward as an authority figure since we didn’t take his threat seriously, but he was laughing as well by that point. Our road trip wasn’t any smoother from then on, but it was humorous in certain spots.

Anyway, it’s the little things like this that tell us to take a “chill pill” and relax. They are, indeed, just kids and are acting their age. I really don’t have a solution for correcting this behavior because I’m not an expert. I have kids, but this doesn’t make me one and I don’t claim to have all the answers. I only have my experiences and what is working for me. Our family thrives on humor and for the most part this seems to work for us. I only take solace in the fact that we are not the only parents going through this.

I welcome any advice or comments on parenting.

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