School is out and the kiddies are home for a few months of “blissful family togetherness.” That’s our dream anyway, until we flash back to last summer: “Mooommmm make Kara stop touching me!” or: “Can’t you put Sara up for adoption?”
Sound a bit more familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Sibling squabbles and tears are the reality in most families. But with just a little planning, night and day Blitzkrieg doesn’t have to be your summer memory. Here are a few summer sanity savers to help curb sibling battles:
•Identify the one issue that causes the most sibling friction and develop a battle plan. If it’s computer use, then set up a schedule and stick it on the screen. If it's sharing a closet, then create dividers. Stay on the offense and one step ahead of the kids.
•Set a “no tattling” rule: “Unless you are telling me something that will keep your brother out of trouble, I don’t want to hear it.” Then be consistent. It does wonders in curbing conflicts.
•Sometimes all that is needed is to acknowledge the hurt sibling’s feelings. Try it: “You’re hurt because your brother didn’t ask you to play.” Remember your kids don’t have to like each other (or even get along), but they do have to respect each other’s feelings.
•If convenient (and affordable), arrange some time apart: a different play date, a separate swim schedule, or a park class. Everyone (even kids!) needs privacy.
•Don’t play negotiator. Instead, teach your kids how to solve their own problems. The next time they come running, take a breath, bite your tongue, and say: “What’s one thing the two of you can do to solve that?” The sooner kids learn how to work out their own conflicts, the better.
These ideas curbed my own sons’ summer squabbles. But what works for you? I’d love to hear your own summer sanity saver ideas. (Meanwhile, do remember that it’s your summer, too!)
Michele's latest book is 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know: Getting Back to Basics and Raising Happy Kids.