At some point, I had stopped treating my older son as a partner in crime and instead treated him as the enemy. We went down a rough road where we were always battling -- an endless string of yelling, tantrums, time outs and aggression. It was miserable for all of us, and I came to the horrible realization that I wasn't enjoying time with my son.
With that realization came the need for change. I could see very clearly that the consequences that I was putting into place were not working... They were actually making the situation worse. The more strict I became, the worse his behavior got.
But things have to get worse before they get better, right? I have to stay the course, right? He will eventually fall in line, right?
The short answer was "No."
I realized that we had lost respect for each other. I wasn't giving him the respect he deserved, and I wasn't earning his respect. And I phrase it that way because as a parent, it is always your responsibility to make the first changes.
I can't expect him to be kind if I'm not.
So I changed my behavior. I started treating him like my buddy rather than a nuisance. I gave him the responsibility that he deserved, was capable of and wanted. I stopped pushing him to the side in the chaos of everyday life and slowed down to spend time with him.
And I'm so glad I did because I got my partner in crime back.
We chat in the car, giggle in the grocery store and share looks when little brother is causing trouble. And without a single timeout his behavior has improved.
And as you can imagine... So has mine.