Want fewer squabbles between your children?

Every afternoon, my children have a quiet time for 1 1/2 hours.  We have done this forever — since they transitioned out of naps, and it has been the saving grace of my stay-at-home, homeschooling motherhood.  Everyone goes to separate rooms and reads, colors, does puzzles, or (sometimes) builds Legos or K’nex.  There’s no talking to anyone, and whoever gets out of quiet time (other than to go to the bathroom) or whoever talks to Mom gets 15 minutes added to their time, which is a successful deterrent. 

No one minds quiet time, but, honestly, it’s probably not my kids’ preference.  It’s Mom’s preference.  😉

After lunch, if the weather cooperates, I usually say, “Time to play outside.  As long as you’re peaceful, you may continue to play.  At the first sign of fighting, whining, tattling, etc., you come in for quiet time.”  As if by magic, this compels my three boys (ages 10, 8 & 6) to play cooperatively together usually at least for an hour.  At times, they’ve played together nearly the whole afternoon in the back yard.  (In those cases, when they come in and it’s nearly dinner time, I just give them a very shortened quiet time — 30 or 45 minutes — as I’m preparing dinner.)

And, I’m true to my word.  As soon as someone flies in the back door proclaiming, “He started wah-wah-wah-ing and hurt me” then all three of them come in for quiet time.

So, my parenting tip for the New Year is, if there’s something that your children would rather not do, tell them that they don’t have to do it as long as they play peacefully together.

I’ve known a few families where love and consideration seems to naturally abound between siblings.  My family would not fall into that category.  I have three rough-and-tumble, competitive boys who need a little encouragement, usually, to get along.  Avoiding (or at least putting off) quiet time is almost always compelling enough to bring out their normally-latent teamwork skills, cooperative problem-solving, and practice in deferring to each other.  That works for me.  


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 2, 2008, in Family, Motherhood, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. man, I can’t WAIT until my kids are old enough to utilitze techniques like that. Both mine can’t seem to remember for long stretches at all. I’m really going through a difficult time with them right now, arguing and fighting all the time. It’s disheartening.

  2. oh I so wish this happened in my home. My daughter is the only child and she obviously needs somebody to talk with besides her imaginary friends (imagine that long summer holiday .. ***sigh***).

    It’s good to have a chatty child but sometimes I desperately need a quite time for myself too.

    Take care there ~ annita

    ps. btw, my munchkin is also food allergic and gluten free child. we ALL been on this journey for a yr. I stumbled upon your blog as I was searching more GF recipes for her.

  3. Hey, this is a great idea. I used to be able to have them rest together and watch a show in the afternoon but now they kill each other even doing that. I think we’ll start it right now, in fact. As L is here whining to me about whatever it is his brother is supposedly doing to him. :-/

  4. Melanie ~ I am so with you!!! I am so happy that my boys are active and full of life, but at the same time, it’s that vigor, I think, that also lends itself to argumentativeness and competitiveness that can — daily — be, as you said, disheartening. 😦 Hang in there!!!!! One day they’ll rise up and call us blessed, right???

    Footprints ~ Thanks for stopping by!!!! I hope you find some recipes you can use! Just tonight, I made my own Lemon Bars, using my own recipe, and the crust turned out soggy! Did I use a different pan than I normally do?? I can’t figure it out. Ah, the “joys” of gluten-free baking. It’s never the same.

    Sara ~ So… how’d it go????

  5. Karen Joy–It went ok. When we got back from piano and shopping I had them each “sit” in their area for about 15 minutes. The two little ones weren’t too thrilled. I told them they could have a toy but they didn’t quite grasp the concept. I think they thought they were just supposed to be resting. We’ll try it a little more each day and work out way up. I think I’d be happy with just an hour right now. lol.

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