"How do you get a child to do what he's told the first time he's told? Don't ever repeat yourself. "

Out of control 5 and 3 y/o boys

Question

Hello,
I am doing a miserable job as a parent to my two boys (aged 5 and 3). They are out of hand entirely. We can't get through prayers at the dinner table without at least one of them being sent away from the table for making jokes (usually about poo poo) during the blessing and the other going into hysterics. This escalates into a bigger fight and last night my 5 year old was sent to bed without supper, which my husband was miserable about. Tonight my 5 year old looked right at me and spit milk on the table. I immediately sent him up to bed and they both ran away from me, telling each other to run from me, then turned and spit (razzed) at me, laughing hysterically. I was so furious at the lack of respect and I can't figure out how to get control of the situation. My husband said they are just boys but I feel like they should listen and calm down when we tell them to and be respectful - not run away and spit at us!!! Incidentally, we can't get through bed time prayers without the same behavior. My 5 yo can also be a big manipulator. He likes to say he is not hungry at the dinner table and then later, when we say it's time for bed, he claims to be starving to death and argues, pleads and fights to stay up to eat. This could go on for an hour past bed time - once again my husband and I looking the fool. My husband feels badly sending him to bed without dinner, but I do not! This child knows what he is doing. They also show off in front of guests, running wild and screaming so much that we cannot visit with our company. They get so worked up! We ultimately have to leave whoever we are visiting with and go get them to calm down which may result in another drama or us putting on a TV show just to distract them, which I know is bad for them. My mother called them "animals" several times when she was here for Christmas. The boys go crazy when they are together and I cannot get control of them. I am miserable about this and need guidance so we can have peace in our house and actually enjoy our children. Not to say there are not good times with them - there certainly are. They are spirited with a great sense of humor and very affectionate and loving. But more and more I feel like I lose control of them (including two recent incidents at the grocery store where I had to just turn and leave) and I'd like to learn to deal with it without screaming, spanking or sending them to bed without dinner. Please help!

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