Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting your kids to play together

My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old. They are each other's favorite playmates, and I love that! I want them to play well together, to enjoy their siblings, but I have noticed they kind of have to be taught or conditioned to play well together.

It is not all bliss, we are still figuring it out, but here is what I have noticed works to help siblings play well together:
1. Give them opportunity - I think this is huge, you must allow time for unstructured play among your own kids. If they are constantly in school, other activities, or with same-age friends, then there is no time for bonding with their brothers & sisters.
2. Let them play alone some - Give your kids some space to play without you in the exact same room all the time. Leave them in a child-proofed area and go work on something in another room where you can still hear what is going on with their play. Often my kids work things out better when I'm not right there. They attempt to solve their own disputes rather than coming right to me.
3. Ask a lot of questions - When there are disputes I don't take sides right away. Rather I ask them a lot of questions like, "What happened?" "Did you ask him nicely to give it back?" "Did you ask her nicely if you could have a turn?" "Was that kind?" "How would you feel if your sister did that to you?" Or in the picture above my older 2 kids turned the bottom bunk bed into a tent, but were not allowing their 2 year old brother to play in it with them. He came crying to me and all I had to ask the older kids was, "Did you build the tent on his bed?" They did and that question was all it took for them to realize they needed to let him play!
4. And then there is my favorite question - "Can you guys work it out or do I need to work it out for you?" Of course, my working it out would be not fun, like taking away the contested toy so nobody could play with it.
5. Another tactic - if there starts to be a lot of squabbling, it becomes chores time. I do not usually directly say, "Since you are fighting so much, you must do chores." But I think subconsciously they realize the cause and effect -- "hmmm, if we play nicely Mom let's us play; if we argue, she makes us fold laundry with her."
6. Last, we talk a lot about what a blessing it is to have siblings to play with. "Isn't it so special that God gave you a sister and a brother?"

Find more Works for Me Wednesday and Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.


  1. These are great tips! Mine are almost three and twenty months, and they are already best friends!

  2. I'm definitely struggling in this area. I have an 8 yr old and 2 yr old. I thought the age span would be a blessing, but instead they bicker and argue like all other siblings. I'll be trying some of these techniques in the coming days!

  3. ha ha- my personal fav too - fighting =chores

  4. I too liked the idea of fighting=chores. But I also liked your idea of asking them if they want to work it out or have you work it out. I think this is probably a great skill you are giving your children to be able to work out disputes on their own without a mediator.

  5. I love the fort building!

    Good idea to add the chores if they start to fight!

  6. "Can you guys work it out or do I need to work it out for you?" LOVE this one! =)

  7. SUPER tips! Thanks for sharing!

  8. You always have such great advice.

  9. My son... does not play well with others. When my niece came to visit (shes one) he pee'd himself every time she touched one of his toys. It got so bad that he started throwing his toys into a corner she couldn't get to and that pissed HER off. It wasn't a fun week.

  10. Love your tips! I remember that age range. You have to relax and enjoy the ride because there isn't much of your day you can control! HA!

  11. My kids are 4 and 2. We are thinking of going for number 3 currently.

    Given that, I will definitely be bookmarking this post. Such great tips. Thank you! I guess experienced moms really do make the best teachers. :)


  12. Good tips! I love her posture in that photo :)


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