The boy has had a hard time lately. I know it's largely due to anxiety/ADHD issues related to his sister's behavior, but that doesn't make it any more appealing or appropriate. He's been hitting a lot, claiming that she just makes him "SO ANGRY!"
It makes me SO ANGRY, too, that he does that. So I reply, "Well, hitting your sister makes ME angry, but you don't see me turning around and whacking you, do you???"
Logic. Oi vey.
He's lost all his allowance for the month. He starts the month with $50 and loses dollars for inappropriate behavior. He can earn some for doing extra chores or particularly nice deeds. This month, though, every time I give him the chance to earn some, he shot himself in the foot and wound up with nothing or, worse, lost more.
Anyway, he had nothing to lose, I'd reached the end of my rope, and he was still pestering his sister, so I told him that if his hands couldn't behave, I'd give them jobs to do.
Lots of them.
He has received the assignment of cleaning the house from one end to the other. I'm happy to help or provide guidance if needed, but he's capable of most of the jobs. I also told him that as soon as the house was spotless, we could get out the Halloween decorations, which he LOVES.
Yesterday, he was gung-ho about being busy and getting stuff done. He vacuumed the utility room, scrubbed out the dog cage, cleaned up a cat puke mess, helped sort and bag recycling, dusted and vacuumed his room, vacuumed the hall, and dusted and vacuumed my room. He claims he'll get done with all the chores today, but I don't see it happening.
He is, however, learning that I am not bone idle around here, and that when I am cleaning the house, cooking meals, or doing other chores, that it really is a pain in the backside when people destroy things, fight, or otherwise distract me. When we were out in the garage sorting and bagging the recycling yesterday, he looked at me and said, "I had no idea it was this hard of work! I thought it was all just putting everything in bins!"
Well, yes, son, it can be tough WORK. Especially in the summer when the garage is roughly 120 degrees with 90% humidity... and that's without exaggeration. And then to come back in the house and discover you and your sister being miniature BASE jumpers off the furniture isn't going to make me particularly thrilled, is it?
His mouth formed a little 'o' at that thought, and he was quiet.
Yesterday he started sweeping the dining room. He has a hard time manipulating a broom, so when he got frustrated, I told him to put the broom down and finish today. He picked it up today and realized that the cats had left more fur and he and his sister had left more crumbs on the floor overnight. As he finished, he announced to me and the cats, "Anyone who messes up this floor before tomorrow is going to make me MAD!"
I couldn't help but giggle a little. This from the boy who loves to distribute food to the dogs by brushing it off his placemat straight onto the floor.
"Is keeping the house clean hard work, son?"
"Yes, it is."
"Is it fun?"
"Do you have to concentrate to do it right?"
"Yes," he said grudgingly.
"So let's say that while you were cleaning, I was in your room breaking stuff. Would you be able to keep working while I did that, or would you have to stop to make me behave?"
*light bulb flickers on*
I don't know that it'll make a permanent dent in his memory yet, but I've told him that every time he hits from now on, he'll have to clean a room to keep his hands busy for a while. We'll see where it leads us. It certainly isn't going to do damage!