Ah, children, we love them. They light up our lives, they bring us joy and they drive us crazy fighting over who gets to play video games.
Instead of locking up your game system, and making everyone suffer, let’s share some favorite strategies for keeping the kids semi-well civilized.
1. Start a new economic system
When your kids misbehave and fight, you wouldn’t punish them by taking their brussels sprouts away, right? When one kid is patient and plays with a younger sibling who is being a nuisance, you don’t give them extra bathrooms to clean, right?
I pay my kids in whatever currency means the most for their age and development. My older guys get paid in either money, extra video game time or extra time to play outside with friends on the weekends.
When the big guys are playing Xbox 360 and the little guys want to play, instead of everyone getting mad over it, we compromise. I reward the older guys with a little extra time or snack money for school if they make the ‘littles’ (we call the younger boys the ‘littles’, don’t ask me why) feel involved for a few minutes.
And just to keep it honest, the guys will often fuss and say they don’t want to let the ‘littles’ play, but I remind them they live in a family, need to get over themselves and are lucky I’m willing to pay them a little something for it. AHEM.
2. Have Guidelines for Gaming
On Saturday mornings we all have to clean the house together. Woe to him who turns on the games before we are done. Because rules are set up for when the kids can play, they never can say, “But whyyyyyy Mom, why can’t we plaaay nooooow?” On school nights homework and chores must be done, clothes for tomorrow must be ready and lunch packed and in the fridge before any games can be played. The kid who completes his work first gets to play. No sibling rivalry there, it is a free market.
3. Don’t Let Young Kids Play Games Where they Role-Play Aggressiveness Toward Others
If you want your kids to get along and have love for their fellow siblings, don’t let them play the neighbor’s violent games for grownups. You would think this goes without saying, but it doesn’t. Look for games where the kids can play together and have fun and avoid games that involve anything you don’t approve of. Because I have so many boys at different ages, I lessen conflict over what games are played by focusing on games that involve sports, nature and adventures. All the boys love pretending to be a quarterback or racing on a raft down a river.
Remember how I said I ‘paid’ the older kids to play with the ‘littles’? I caught this scene over the weekend. I bet you have seen scenes like this before in your life!
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Here is the scene… 1 of 4Big brother is playing football, youngest brother thinks he is playing and the kindergartener is just itching to play, too.
He’s holding it together. 2 of 4He paces back and forth.
See that face? He’s trying to hold it together. 3 of 4Meltdown is fast approaching, "I wanna plaaaay, too!"
Meltdown Avoided! 4 of 4I'm paying the big guy for "Video babysitting" aka- playing a few games with his brothers, in extra time to play outside with his friends. They are using Xbox 360 + Kinect to race down rapids on rafts all together. So cute!
I would love to hear your tips on managing kids and keeping them from arguing over their favorite things!
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