It’s been raining for days here in Virginia, and our last week before school starts has been tough. I wanted to spend it at the pool, but the weather hasn’t let us get there in over a week. Two high energy boys cooped up in a house for over a week makes for some hard days. Can I get an amen?
They’re literally bursting with the need to move, and that often ends up with someone hurt or something broken. Tuesday, my youngest ran SIXTY laps around the cul-de-sac. It’s a method of discipline we use when the behavior stems from pent up energy. When my boys get like this they seem to lose the ability to control themselves. Their bodies betray them, and in a matter of thirty seconds flat they’ll be rolling around on the ground wrestling, or throwing pillows at each other, or just doing laps around my living room, oblivious to the destruction they leave in their wake.
So what’s a mom to do when her son’s body is trumping his brain?
Here are five things that help us at The McGlothlin Home for Boys:
1. Understand that it’s a battle.
I realize there’s a physical root to their disobedience. Their bodies must be in motion, and sometimes, their bodies trump their minds and hearts. They’re not necessarily trying to be disobedient, but at seven and nine, they can’t always tell their bodies what to do and get instant results. The order of the day is understanding and grace, and a heavy dose of physical activity. It’s important to communicate that we understand their body’s need for activity is hard to overcome, but there comes a time when we just have to do the hard things anyway.
Understanding and compassion go a long way toward helping the difficult things bring a mama closer to her son instead of driving them apart.
2. Create opportunities for physical activity however you can.
We run laps. A lot of them. Sixty of them throughout the day until their bodies are finally void of it all and they can truly listen and obey, and sometimes that’s still not enough. My husband runs about three miles a few times a week, and we decided to see if our youngest could keep up with him. I sat by the phone, ready to jump in the car and come get him if it was too much, but the phone call never came. He paced my husband step for step, and when they got home he was still bouncing, ready to go. The activity didn’t drain him, it energized him even more. Have mercy.
Swimming is one of the best physical activities for our boys. Think how hard their little legs and arms work under the water. They come home exhausted every time we go to the pool. This fall, as we look forward to a new homeschooling year, I’m seriously thinking about joining the health club down the street so I can take them to the pool to swim laps first thing in the morning.
Get creative and think outside the box. Find an activity that wears your boys out, and stick with it.
3. Keep your anger in check.
If there’s anything that makes me want to lose my temper, it’s the “noise, noise, noise!” and the constant wrestling. I can’t tell you how many things in our home have gotten broken because of my rough-and-tumble boys. Doors (at least 3), cabinets, shelves, light fixtures, tables (and only by the grace of God, NOT my beautiful glass china cabinet my dad had made for me). It drives me crazy when they don’t respect our home, but letting my emotions control me doesn’t help the problem, it only teaches them to lose their emotions, too.
Get a grip on yourself before reacting to their mess. Show grace when you can, and remember that because Jesus loved you in spite of your shortcomings, you can extend that love to them.
4. Diffuse Lavender in the main room of your house.
Or wherever they spend the most time. Lavender has known sedative properties. I rub it on my boys’ pillows before bed, and put several drops in the spray bottle of water we use to tame the evil bedhead (I like to call it a shot of “calm it down, boy.”) I don’t diffuse it every day, but when things get crazy in our home, it’s my go-to to take the edge off.
5. Set healthy expectations early in the day.
The morning after our sixty lap marathon it was still rainy. I knew the possibilities of another hard day were high, so when my boys woke up raring to go (as they always do), I gently sat them down and reminded them that the cul-de-sac was still there. I set the bar reasonably high, telling them what my expectations were for the day (i.e. “I know it’s hard, do it anyway”) and let them know I believed that with Jesus’ help, they could do it.
I think that’s the key to making this little exercise be more than just a way to control your boys. The bottom line is that there will be things they don’t feel they can do for the rest of their lives—hard things that threaten to master them instead of the other way around. If we build a sense of “everything in life that’s worth anything requires hard work,” with a heavy dose of, “you must ask Jesus to help you overcome the hard things because you can’t do it yourself,” we’ll be that much further ahead in teaching them how to be godly, hard-working men who overcome in the name of Jesus.
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I needed this so much!!! Triplet 6 year old boys and the first few weeks of full time homeschooling. Mine do laps around the outside of the house, but we also live on a cul-de-sac. Very tough day yesterday!!! I was so frustrated the laps thing didn’t occur to me and one of mine really needed it. Also, I have needed to exercise myself, so maybe I can have them hike with me at the park near our house. Love the lavender tip!!! One of my favorite scents too.
I LOVE this!! Wish we had a cul de sac!! I have my boys run around the house or to the stop sign and back several times. My oldest would probably never see running as punishment though, because he LOVES to run and seemingly never gets tired…ha! My boys are 10 and 7 and I so appreciate your insight! Keep it coming 🙂
I so feel this with my 3 1/2 year old! When it’s nice out we are able to get out and get plenty of exercise, but when it’s rainy or snowy things get crazy in here and that just doesn’t work now that we also have a 1 year old… that my 3 1/2 year old wants to wrestle! I think we are going to join the YMCA this Fall so that I’ll be able to take him swimming this Fall and Winter.
I needed every word of this. It gives me great hope to know its not just my boys. My mom only had me and my sister so this boy thing is new to her too. Sometimes i think she unknowingly makes me feel as if something is wrong with them or that they are too wild and need to be tamed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
This is good. I have two boys – 6&10. We do much better when we start our day with a bible lesson and then some kind of outside time. Yesterday it was the skateboard park. My husband tells me all the time how running everyday helps take the edge off. I can see it. The challenge I often have is the battle of getting them out the door. Once we are in route, things typically go well. I agree about swimming. We were blessed with our own pool this summer. It has been great, but just like most things the novelty is wearing off. They still love it – just not as much as in the first few weeks.
Excellent post! We got a cheap above the ground pool this summer and it has been such a Godsend. Gives the boys (and me) something fun to do on those long summer days. And such a fun way to expend energy! (Tip – you can find cheap pools on Craig’s List.)
Boys definitely need to move. Creating opportunities for them to move throughout the day is very important. It’s healthier for them – it’s healthier for all of us, if you think about it. And who says you need to be sitting still with a pencil in your hand to learn?!? 🙂
Yay for the wild boys! We have done laps and another ‘fun’ activity is moving heavy items around the yard or basement to ‘help’ me. Growing up in an all-girl home, with only nieces, I was unprepared for the noise and activity level of boys. But I don’t wan’t to emasculate them, so I keep trying to find outlets.
My 10-year-old loves the freedom of riding his bike and my little guy, age 6, loves to run. Both like swimming, but we don’t have easy access. One of our favorite activities is hiking because it provides movement, adventure and a level of freedom to blaze ahead on the trail.
Brilliant! I need someone to remind me of this every day !!
Your house sounds exactly like mine! I have a girl in the mix who’s every bit as crazy as the boys (learning it from her big brother at a young age,) and I’ve learned to hide the important items and not hold on to those I keep around. If you can believe it, my youngest, (6) has been ‘hiding’ things to punish the rest of us since he was less than 2 years old, so I totally relate to #3. Add that to the constant noise and my sensory issues ( I get overstimulated easily,) and your blog and the MOB society has become a lifeline of sanity in a storm of crazy!!! Keep the articles coming!!!
I totally busted out the lavender oils after three snow days in Chicago this week. Great post!Amanda
Oh how I needed to read this today!!! I love all of the suggestions and plan to try them with my 5 and 8 year old. It is so good to know I am not alone in this!
Oh, man, this is just what I needed today. Even the simple reminder (to this very girly mom who was the only child of a single mother) that it is wired in these adorable hooligans to have to be active. I disciplined them by making them stay in their rooms yesterday and then couldn’t understand why they couldn’t keep their hands off each other at Walmart. Duh, mom.
I have a almost 4 and almost 2 year old boy and a little girl on the way… It defiantly gets crazy around here!