“The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.”
If you’ve parented 2 + for more than a minute, you’ve had to referee a few sibling conflicts.
Whether your kiddos are duking it out over whose turn it is to open the front door or who gets to choose the first book at bedtime, one thing is certain:
Kids will bicker over EVERYTHING and quarreling is freakin’ tiresome. It WILL drive you crazy (or perhaps to drinking).
But before you pour that glass of vino, I have a solution to settle the it’s-my-turn argument.
About a year ago, my girls were launching WWIII about whose turn it was to pick movie night, which quickly turned into whose turn it was to pick the TV show. For years, it was Veronica’s choice – without question. Stella was simply too young to decide.
A year ago, the playing field leveled and Stella wanted in the ring.
I wanted to pull my hair out, and pour a beer to fade the edges.
Because there was tension.
Eager to curb the bickering, I started an “in charge” system. My goal was to cut down on the number of arguments about whose turn. It turns out that this system worked like MAGIC.
There’s no denying magic, so …
Here’s How It Works
Each girl has a day that she gets first pick. In a two-child family, the days alternate. In three-plus family households … first off, you amaze me! Aside from that, … well, you simply expand the sequence. You already knew that, obviously.
At the start of a month, I pull out a quarter and ask for heads or tails (so far I haven’t had to have a system as to who gets to call it). Whoever wins the toss, gets the first day of the month. I mark it on the family calendar. Then I jot down the sequence – V, S, V, S or S, V, S, V, depending on who got first dibs. Each box has an initial in it.
The girl “in charge” gets first pick that day. The sibling is up next if time allows for a second show. If their initial lands on movie night (Friday night for us), it’s their choice of movie. I keep it the system only on weekdays as we have more time on the weekend to chill, which means we have less regulated TV-watching (likely a few shows in the morning on their – separate- iPads).
I flipped early for October so I could show you on a blank calendar. I didn’t think you’d want to see the curriculum night, the tennis lessons, and the haircuts scheduled on our already full, September calendar.
Here’s what it looks like chez Rudey:
We’ve been living by this system for about a year. It’s so easy – so peaceful! – and I get to step out of the picture. The girls frequently ask, “Who’s day is it?,” and all I have to say is, “Let’s check the calendar.”
Me = out of the equation.
If it’s Stella’s day, Veronica is okay with it because she can be certain her turn will come tomorrow.
It doesn’t get much fairer than this. And there’s little arguing with a calendar that they created.
We use it for TV watching, but the options are endless. A child “in charge” could have first priority on whatever comes up – first to be pushed on the swing, first to talk to Grandma on the phone, first to get in the car, first to choose a book to read at bedtime (I think I’m going to start that!).
Having a child “in charge” eliminates many of the little things that start the fire. The flame is instantly extinguished when the kids know who’s “in charge.”
“Let’s check the calendar” is so straightforward. It’s a hard wall to punch in an argument.
If your kiddos are bicker over me first, then give this system a whirl. It’s so, so simple.
And yet, it’s powerfully effective.
P.S. If you’re looking for a good book on siblings, I really liked Siblings Without Rivalry. It’s from the same author as one of my favorite parenting books, How to Talk So Kids Listen and Listen So Kids Talk.