With George turning one this week, he has also become mobile. The two boys are already pushing and shoving, fighting over toys.
I know the coming year will bring one a whole different set of struggles between the two of them.
I have found that keeping them occupied with activities, crafts or art, does help. But I can’t possibly keep them that busy all the time, nor would I want to. Free play is important. I can already see during that free play is when the fighting happens. I’m glad I’m in good company and Amy is struggling with this same type of acting out with her two boys.
Reader Question: Fighting Boys
My two young boys want to fight, wrestle, kick, hit, and bite each other all the time. If we don’t keep them busy with activities they revert to this behavior. I know that boys’ brains are wired to need physical activity and competition but it can get quite exhausting coming up with other activities for them to do all day. Also, I don’t want to be a referee for the rest of their lives. Do you have any suggestions for channeling this energy into a more positive direction?– asked by Amy K
Answer from Parenting Expert, Erin from The Intentional Parent:
I think I could have written this question, it must be a boy thing! I have two boys, and I know how frustrating and exhausting it can be.
Here is what worked for me (although in fairness, we do still have a healthy level of competition around here!)
Of course how you handle it depends slightly on their ages (and the age gap between them) but assuming that they are both relatively close in age, I would let them handle their own squabbles as possible.
Allowing them to work out their own problems teaches problem solving, negotiation, compromise, and all kinds of valuable life skills.
But this doesn’t mean a free for all.
I would set some ground rules ahead of time (not during the fight) such as no biting, hitting or kicking. They may need a few reminders, but once they get the rules, then when they fight take a step back and let them handle it.
Another option which worked great for me as a means to channel all of that little boy energy, was that I bought them large inflatable bats (foam noodles would also work) and Socker Boppers (affiliate link) and give them lots of opportunity to play fight safely (not when they are actually fighting).
This provides a great outlet for all of that energy, and takes most of the steam out of their actual fights.
– Erin, The Intentional Parent
Answer from Lifestyle Expert, Sarah from Füdoo Boards:
You are right. Boys are wired for more physical behavior, and they show it in their play.
There are two questions I have:
- How old are the boys? Is one of them preschool age, 3-5 years old?
- Are they playing this aggressively with others or just with each other?
As far as suggestions for you, we need to think BIG – large motor skills and outside if possible.
- Big Projects. Use large wooden blocks, or better yet, larger cardboard blocks and build towers. Remind them to be careful to not knock anything over. This can help them practice control of their bodies. Build outside if you can.
- Target practice. Get a big box and open the lid. Have the boys grab their Nerf footballs and take aim at the open box. Give them place markers so they stand apart and you stand behind the box to return the balls.
- Did you ever use a refrigerator or dishwasher box as a playhouse when you were young? You can usually ask at an appliance store for a box or just keep your eyes open around town and grab one that is out for recycling. If you have room get two. You will have to cut the windows and doors for the boys, but let them use crayons to decorate them anyway they want. Remind them that if they are not too rough in their new hangouts they will last a long time.
- YogaKids (affiliate link). I have a favorite yoga video my kids have been using since they were 2-3 years old. This video has children practice poses like the volcano and the lion that helps to push energy out. It also has a quiet time at the end. The video is made for children, but you can do it too! Enjoy!
- Zero exposure to violent themed TV shows, movies and video games. Enough said here.
- Monitor their play. I can see the transition from fun to fight when my boy, now 8, wrestles with friends his own age. I watch their faces. It is important to stop the physical play once it switches to fighting (with anger). It’s time to talk about it and then let them back into it for another try.
- Cozy time for Mom. Let your boys know you are tired and just want to get cozy with them for a few minutes. Sit down on the couch or your bed and snuggle up in the pillows with each other. Rub their backs and talk about how good it feels to relax. If your time hasn’t run out, have them pick out a book to read.
– Sarah, Fudoo Boards
This is the end goal, of course. Two happy boys, enjoying their playtime together.
Your Unwanted Behaviors:
- Adult Differences: What do you do when other people try and manage your child’s behaviors… even though their expectations for your child (and other children) are not developmentally appropriate? Or you have a different opinion regarding what the behavior should be in the particular situation?
- Gender Awareness: What do you do when a child in your class seems to be a little too aware of private parts & boy/girl relationships?
- Nagging Questions: How do I limit my children from asking the same question over and over?
- How to Discipline a Demanding 2 Year Old