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.