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I’ve realized that there is no rhyme or reason to what makes my kids get along with one another on any given day. It doesn’t matter that two of my children are 15 months apart or that the oldest is at least three years older than his siblings. What I’ve noticed, however, is that some days alliances are formed. I’ll have two kids that get along like angels and one that can’t get along with anyone.
My children all have different personalities, which I understand and respect. Part of this understanding means they may just never agree with each other on certain things. But the bickering on some days is just too much to handle and works my nerves. I sometimes opt to take the odd man out of the equation that day, leaving the two who get along to blissfully enjoy each other.
Now I know that’s not the solution, but in desperate times it works. Rather than continue to put a Band-Aid on the problem, I figured it was time to do some research and figure this out. I checked the web, got a few parenting books from the library, and tried to find a solution that would be a good fit for our family. One thing I found from FamilyCircle.com was that as your kids get older “they find more sophisticated ways of tormenting each other”. That was a signal to me to hurry up and figure this out.
According to the Mayo Clinic, I had to first consider the root of the problem before I could get my kids to play nice. Most of the time, when kids are not getting along, it’s because there is a perception that one child is loved more by a parent. A child may react by competing for their parents’ love. Solution: avoid the appearance of preferential treatment, which sometimes means explaining your decisions.
Here’s what I came up with.
1. Encourage a team attitude. Help your kids understand that as partners and as teammates they are much better off working together rather than against one another. This means encouraging them to help each other find lost toys, saying sorry when they hurt the other person, helping each other with chores, etc. Encouraging a team attitude is a win for everyone. And for kids that means more time to play together.
2. Let the children work out their problems. Instead of stepping in to resolve fights, give the children space to resolve their own conflicts. Parents should speak to their children about how to resolve conflict. Tips include giving each a chance to speak, being sympathetic to the other person’s feelings, and apologizing when feelings are hurt.
3. Distract them with play ideas. Boredom usually results in fighting. If parents step in before tempers start to flare, you can prevent fights and bickering. In my house, I’ll find one child playing peacefully when along comes another one to disrupt his or her moment. When this happens, encourage your children to play together or perhaps suggest individual play ideas to give each child needed space.
How do you encourage your children to get along and play together?