But they don't always work.
Exhibit A: Reed has a nasty little temper. He has big blue eyes and perfect skin and soft blonde hair, and when he sleeps he's so beautiful that I swear to God I can hear angels singing, but he has a streak of terror that belies his angelic look. If you send him to time out, he will go, but he always picks up something and throws it on his way. Or, he'll kick the wall. Then he does the most impressive mad face and crosses his arm and spits daggers at you with his eyes. And I try not to laugh because he's still so freaking cute. I also try not to be sarcastic, but I can't avoid saying, when he kicks the wall and consequentially hurts his foot, "I bet you feel a whole lot better now, huh?" More daggers.
So, I've been working on teaching him to do deep breathing and count to ten when he gets mad. Instead of throwing or kicking, I try to get him to breathe in through his nose and blow out through his mouth and count to ten.
The other day, Reed was furious because I took away a toy for talking rudely to me. He was fuming. He was sitting on the floor, and had just taken off his shoes. I watched him pick up a shoe. I said: "Reed, do your breathing." He huffed and puffed and counted. One. Two. Three. Deep breath. Four. Five. Six. Deep breath. Seven. Eight. Nine. On ten, he picked up that shoe and chucked it at the wall so hard it left a mark.
Okay. Next strategy?
Exhibit B: I've been reading the book Siblings Without Rivalry that was given to me by my friend Susan when Reed was born. I smugly didn't read it for 5 years because my children are not like other children, and there was no rivalry. Until this year when they are sometimes so mean to and mad at each other that it makes me want to cry and pull out hairs (mine and theirs).
Anyway, reading this book gave me a good reminder that I need to, especially in Skyler's case, let my kids express their feelings of frustration instead of shutting them down. She gets VERY frustrated with Reed several times a day. He touches her, pokes her, and gets into her space, so I shouldn't blame her. But she can yell back at him in a very biting tone.
The other night, I sent her to her room because she called Reed "stupid," and she yelled it. She was very upset by the injustice that she had been sent to her room, and was crying loudly. She has an especially, um, inspired type of dramatic cry when she feels she's being treated unfairly. I thought about what the authors of the book would say, and went into her room. I was pretty proud of myself when I said: "Why don't you spend a few minutes thinking about five words that you would use to describe Reed and how he makes you feel. I turned to walk out of her room. She sat right up and shouted: "RUDE. DISGUSTING. HURTFUL. MEAN. DESTRUCTIVE. AND ANNOYING." Then she continued to wail.
I said: "Good job. That was six words. And I'm glad we had this little talk."