Don’t Be Afraid to Discipline Bickering Kids!

[pinterest] - kids on time out

There’s nothing that sends a mother to the moon faster than bickering kids. I firmly believe driving under the influence of toddlers and teenagers should be illegal.

Why, yes, I’d vote for this legislation.I’ve had too many near fatal accidents where I secretly willed my Chevy Suburban off a cliff.

“Mom! David just threw something at me.”

“Knock it off, David. Don’t throw things at your sister.”

“But, Mom, Meghan threw her gum wrapper at me first!”

“I did not!”

“Liar! You did too!”

What is it about getting on the phone or behind the wheel of a car that makes a child lose their mind? It’s these magical moments of motherhood they never tell you about –the ones where children test boundaries and take you along for the ride. So, how do you keep from pulling over and swinging them like a dead cat?

Prepare. If talking things out between them doesn’t work, have a discipline plan ready and waiting. If your kids are old enough to verbally express themselves, this isn’t your first rodeo. Discipline is a tool. We use it as parents to teach our children. Like I said, be prepared. Don’t let a child wear you down. I’m sure you’ve experienced this too many times to count: arguing kids who won’t stop no matter how often you use your “quiet voice” or how nicely ask them to “use their words”. And, for the love of pete…puhleaaasseeee stop counting to ten. All you’re teaching them to do is count.

My two youngest (12 and 15) recently came to me and shared that they were arguing and busted their bathroom vanity door like rock stars – except they aren’t rock stars. Did I mention this was in our brand-spankin- new house? After taking a few minutes alone in my bedroom to regroup, breathe deeply and pray I didn’t kill them, I calmly told them to get me a piece of paper. I then proceeded to write a list of chores that would keep them busy for a LONG TIME.  I was prepared. 

When I discipline my children I make sure it benefits me, too.

Won’t stop fighting? Vacuum the rugs.

Can’t stop tormenting your sister? Clean the baseboards with a toothbrush.

Continue to take your brother’s things without asking? Make his bed for the week.

Arguing over a TV show? TV is off for two days. Read a book, instead. 

Oh friends, I have a million of them. But, do you know the GREATEST benefit to disciplining your bickering kids?

They no longer see each other as the enemy. That title now belongs to you. Why? Because you’re the mean ogre who gave them a chore or took something away they loved like their iPod or iPhone. Which is great, because now those same two kids who were trying to gouge each other’s eyes out? They magically become allies and old friends, like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill right before your eyes.

So, the next time your little angels are acting like drunken sailors on payday, just imagine me whispering in your ear this golden nugget of truth: Don’t be afraid to discipline bickering kids. Nothing brings them closer than serving time together. 

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11


  1. Katie Chaney says

    Ahahaha – Joanne! Too true, too true. One of the ONLY real tidbits of wisdom my first husband imparted on me was “don’t discipline the kids in anger”. Confused at the time, I thought “well, I’m not going to discipline them when I’m happy!” But I got it, I understood. At 18 months, Christopher could nail Travis in the forehead with a hotwheels car from at least 20 feet. We thought for sure he was the next Hank Aaron! Clearly 18 months was WAY too young for him to be playing with his brother’s hotwheels. “Travis, keep your bedroom door closed.” At 18 months he neither understood what he was doing, nor could he open a closed door. Easy peasy. Then they get older. I hated the fact that my brothers and I always bickered and fought. In our house! So I decided to make one rule and that was “you can’t fight in the house!” “Ever!” The world is a crazy place out there…this is our sanctuary, our safe place. Don’t fight in the house. Defend each other when you’re in the world, and when you’re home…don’t fight! It honestly worked. What the heck – did God give me like these “angel kids”? Who knew? They developed more of an “us against them” attitude. They’re 7 years apart, it’s not like they went out into the world and formed their own little gang, but they got each other’s backs. I liked that. Oh the bickering did happen – but not very often; maybe because they were so far apart in age…and I did get my share of clean floors, swept porches, scoured tubs and many dishwasher loads emptied. And I thought that counting to 10 was to calm US, not a countdown to when the “board of education” got to swinging…I messed that all up, didn’t I? LOL Good one, Joanne! Sorry about the vanity door. Summer is coming, lawn mowing is a great source of income to help pay for that.

  2. DM says

    Well I wish it were like that. Counting is not for them. It’s for me and when you have one with severe anxiety and one with aspergers, traditional social graces go out the window. I like the idea of chores but theybwill learn it as a punishment for standing up for themselves (aka fighting). it will teach to suppress their emotions vs express in a positive way. I will have to pray on this one.

    • JoanneKraft says

      Thanks for the comment DM. You definitely have your hands full–wish I could give you solid advice for a bickering aspergers child and one with anxiety but unfortunately I can’t. But, I’d love to hear your input if you find something that works for you. It would be great to share with my mom-readers.

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