- Published on Thursday, 04 March 2010 12:50
Submitted by Michele Borba, Ed.D
So the neighborhood kids have chosen your home as the “cool” place to hang out. Great, eh? But you know the reality: Whenever kids get together, blissful, happy times are not always the outcome. At least that was true at my house with my three kids. If you’re at your wits end from hearing kid-battles and are tired of refereeing or playing “negotiator,” have faith. There really is a way to curb kid bickering, tattling, and tears, and save your sanity. Here are a few parent solutions that teach your kids how to get along, tattle less, and solve their problems without you. The result: happier kids, more peaceful homes, and a saner you. What could be better?
1. Enforce a “No Tattling” rule. What kid wants to be around a pal who always wants to snitch? So nix tattling, pronto. Lay down one law: unless the report is intended to keep the accused out of trouble or harm you won’t listen. The rule could be as simple as: “Is this helpful or unhelpful news?” And then consistently enforce the policy every time your kid – or his friends -- tattles.
2. Buy an egg timer. A frequent reason for bickering is when one kid dominates others or doesn’t allow the same time on a task. So teach your kids to use an egg timer (or egg timer, stopwatch or sand timer) to make things fair. They first must agree on a set amount of time—usually only a few minutes—for using an item. When the time’s up, their turn is over. And everyone stays happy (including you).
3. Put away the good stuff. There are certain possessions that are very special to your child—as well as to other family members. So put those items away before a guest arrives. It actually minimizes potential conflicts. Then say, “Anything you leave out are things you have to share.”
4. Teach decision-makers. Rock, paper, scissors; drawing straws; picking a number; flipping a coin—these are old-time favorites that come in handy when kids can’t decide on rules, who gets to choose what to do, or who goes first. Teach them to your children so they can use them with their pals to help reduce those squabbles on their own.
5. Create activity bins. To minimize conflicts (and those “there’s nothing to do” complaints), create a few “activity bins” (baskets, boxes, or plastic bins) stocked with a few toys and age-appropriate activities: Play-Doh, and cookie cutters, bubble blowers, art supplies, a craft set, and a pack of cards. These are great to help kids unwind or give them quieter play moments even away from one another. A brand new video, coloring or comic books is great to keep tucked away for those “when all else fails” moment Plop the kids down, hand them a comic book, and give yourself a five-minute breather.
6. Forget odd numbers. There’s truth to that old saying: “Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.” An even number of kids playing together usually is better than an odd number, simply because there’s less likelihood that one kid will be left out. So if bickering continues with certain kid combinations, set a rule for “pairs” only—and refrain from a three-some.
There is one final secret to curbing those kid arguments to a minimum: keep a low profile, Mom. If you hear an argument brewing, stay within earshot, but jump in only when emotions are too high but before an argument escalates. Too much adult interference not only makes kids depend on you to solve their problems, but can actually escalate the squabble. So bite your tongue, and stay below the radar.
ABOUT the Author:
Michele Borba, Ed.D. is a mom of three, a former teacher, TODAY contributor and educational consultant who has presented workshops to one million parents and teachers worldwide. She is also the award-winning author of over 23 books. Her latest is entitled, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. For more strategies and tips visit www.micheleborba.com or follow her on twitter @micheleborba.com
© 2009 by Michele Borba.