Thursday, August 25, 2016

MAGIC WORDS: How to Reduce Sibling Conflict

Dear Olive,

I have unearthed the secret to reducing sibling conflict and rivalry.  I read this book.  And this one.  And this other one.  Nope, no magic there.  The real magic came on a grisly winter day when, stuck in the house with preschooler angst, I literally locked myself in the bathroom and let "Baby Fight Club;" as we like to call it, ensue.  Since the first rule of Baby Fight Club is that you don't talk about Baby Fight Club, I won't bore you with the bloody details.  You know the drill anyway.  Luckily, that dirty toilet respite was what I needed to cut through the gore.  Here's what happened:

"Prizes, prizes," I shouted bursting into the room.  "I have prizes for best friends who can solve a challenge."  God almighty, they actually stopped.  Gabriel looked at me with snot and tears plastering his face and Ella raised her puffy eyes.  Was that a trickle of blood in her scalp?  It didn't matter.  I had their attention.  "What challenge?" They responded, suspiciously.

"Oh, a treacherous best friend challenge," I sang enthusiastically.  "What we have to do?," quipped the little one.  Oh, well the floor is going to turn to lava pretty soon and best friends will have to help each other build pillow stepping stones to get to the prize.  Apparently, they were not overly saturated on the old pillow /  lava game and so I shined like a freaking genius.  Never mind the fate of my millions of throw pillow babies.  Sacrifices must be made.

Here are the rules for "Best Friend Challenge."

1.  You must work together.  If you do all of the work on your own because you can't convince / compromise with your partner, you get no credit.

2.  Don't come bellyaching to me:  If you tattle or if I have to solve your problem, you automatically lose.

3.  You don't get to know what the prize is ahead of time.  And if you complain about what you get, I get to enjoy the old fruit bits with which I am baiting you.  I'll eat them right in front of you too.

4.  Basic family rules apply.  Hands and feet to self, kind words.  Infractions can get you disqualified. 

I am telling you what Olive, this thing was no joke.  It bought me a solid 15 minutes.  I've used it tens of times since (with different challenges and prizes) and it is truly a charm.  Magic even.  

Here are some of the Challenges I recommend:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Cleaning up rooms
  • Doing a shared craft
  • Picking apples off the backyard tree
  • Putting together a difficult puzzle
  • Finding certain books at the library
  • Finding the earring that mommy keeps losing
  • Pulling weeds
  • Packing school lunches
  • Wrapping Christmas gifts
  • Spraying the sidewalk down with water
  • Any of these
  • Or these
  • And also these

Magic words mike drop.

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