Our oldest son is being tomato staked. I have reached the end of my patience with him in regards to how he treats his sister. He loves her very much (though he’s too embarresed to admit it) and they are best friends. But he just doesn’t know how to take "no" for an answer from her. Every day during school, I need to stop and put the baby down for his nap. I tell them to finish their assignments and then take a break. Then I tell him, "Do not touch Pumpkin Girl," and to Pumpkin Girl I say, "No screaming at Boo." I tell them every single day. He is always doing something to her to provoke her. It could be pushing her, sitting on her, tickling her or even just ignoring her when she’s trying to talk to him. This results in her screaming at him. Part of this is because she is only 5 and is still learning to express herself with a talking voice, not a screaming one, and part of it is because he just won’t listen to her. In 5 years he has never once stopped doing whatever it is he is doing to upset her, so now she just goes right to screaming at him. I have literally pulled him off of her to stop him. I have talked to him and punished him until I thought my head would explode. I have told him that he needs to stop because he is abusing her and if he were an adult, he would be put in jail. That got him to stop for about a week. Then today, I went up to put the baby down and forgot to warn him. I came back down and continued reading to them when out of the blue, ds says, "I scratched myself" and shows me three welts on his arm. After a little bit of probing, he admits it was dd that scratched him. I turned to her and she immediately started crying and when I asked her what happened, she tells me that ds made her angry. OK, to make this already long story short, he was tripping her and wouldn’t stop grabbing her legs, so she scratched his arm. I was so angry at both of them, I sent them to separate rooms and went to read about tomato staking. I am angry with dd to a lesser extent, for not using her words, but really, they are ineffective against her brother. I am very, very angry with ds for 1)being a little you-know-what to his sister, 2) continuing this behavior, 3)causing her to sin in an effort to get him to stop hurting her.
So now he is being tomato staked. You can read more about that here. Look for it under teaching obedience. The bottom line is, until he can demonstrate his ability to be trusted with his sister, he will be staked to my side except for quiet time and when he’s in the bathroom. This is a very different experience for me as a parent, and I made a mistake earlier, leaving them alone while I took our lunch dishes to the kitchen. He ended up hitting Pumpkin Girl again, causing him to lose all the rest of his time outdoors today, with or without my supervision. The resulting afternoon was one of the best ones I’ve spent with him in a long time. Pumpkin Girl is not being deliberately staked at this time, but she tags along anyway. After quiet time, they sat together playing with their Leappad books. I was RIGHTTHERE with them, but not getting involved in their interaction and they were getting along so well. Then the three of us watered our newly planted flowers. Pumpkin Girl wanted to keep playing in the backyard and I went inside. Boo stayed staked to me. We ended up cleaning off the front porch together, with Boo volunteering to do most of the work. He is a very good worker. Then we made dinner together. We are having one of his favorites, a very simple ravioli casserole. He has asked me to teach him how to cook and said that this was the first thing he wanted to learn how to do. I showed him how to do the first layer and let him help me. Then I stood back and supervised him putting the second layer on. He did a great job. I really enjoyed the time with him. I’m not sure how long he is going to be staked to me for this offense. But in the meantime, we’ll have no more rotten tomatoes!