What we do about behavioural obstacles with our four kids

Sometimes when I scroll through Instagram or Facebook and once again start to think about how I really need to “up” my photography game, I also start to think, I wonder if we turned the camera around in that beautifully styled room, or if we could rewind time by just five minutes, to see the build-up of the photo of the adorably happy children sitting on chairs in matching outfits, what would we see?

When I used to attempt perfection…

family photo

mother and daughter

mother and daughters

Would we see a three-year-old refusing to wear the perfectly curated outfit and insisting on wearing pajamas… all… day… long…? Would her twin sister be running away, suddenly tripping and hitting her head and begin to sob? Would you see a seven-year-old picking apart your idea for the staged photo, or an impatient almost-nine-year-old sighing loudly asking “how much longer?”

That’s what you’d see in my home. Seriously. That is our home on a daily basis.

The reality…

worried mom



(To be honest, I loved the beautiful chaos and the humour of our family’s outtakes so much that I stopped going for perfection and started to document real-life)

Oh right, that is why I don’t have a stunning and beautifully curated Instagram feed. I like to call my Instagram, real-life with a filter.

Seriously though, my kids misbehave. With four kids I have learned that there will always be a wobbly plate, (as I like to call our child that is struggling). Every time I get that kid figured out, sure enough another child starts to push my buttons and their limits.

Our family has faced everything from lying, to stealing, hitting, biting, ignoring, rudeness, property destruction… I could go on but I think you get the point.

These are regular kids, just testing the waters, and their parents. Sure, our kids can also be incredibly kind, sweet, caring and generous. But everyday life is peppered with behavioral problem solving as a parent.

So, what do I do about it?

I pick my battles. When it comes to tattle tale-ing and minor offenses, I often say, “work it out.” Or if I can tell that this minor offense is a bid for my attention, I will ignore it and then be sure to make a fuss when I see that child doing something good.

I talk to my kids, other parents and caretakers. Communication in our home is extremely important. I think that regardless of what transpires with bad behavior, it is very important for our kids to understand not only what they did, but what our family’s expectations are. Sometimes a conversation and some understanding can go a long way.
When I am really struggling with a behavioral problem, I will talk to other parents and even the teachers at my kids’ school and at Kids and Company. I’ve had more than one situation resolved with help from a teacher giving some useful advice at our twins’ daycare. Also, it is important to hear that your kid is not the only one going through this particular stage.

I revoke privileges. There’s a bit of a debate about tablets and kids. I, for one, am a fan of kids ages four and up having their own iPads. That means that two of our four kids have iPads. Here’s the beautiful thing, iPads are a great tool for discipline, at least in our house. When action must be taken with our older kids I will give a warning and then follow through with an iPad being taken away. Depending on the seriousness of the offense our kids will lose their iPads for hours (and earn it back with good behavior) or weeks.

I let them cool off. Occasionally a fight will break out so intense that there needs to be a cool-off period before even doing anything about it. In this situation, when a kid can’t cool off, can’t talk and doesn’t even want a hug, we guide them up to their room and give them five minutes.
Almost every time I will go back in and they are not only calm, but they act like nothing even happened. I think we can all use a little space sometimes.

Whether it’s a biting phase with a toddler, or a call home from a teacher, I want you to know you are not alone. We all go through it. It is important to keep perspective, lean on your village and know that you are doing a great job!

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.