It is hard to believe that we are nearly half way through summer vacation. Summer should be a time of relaxation, but any parent who stays at home with their kids during the summer may feel differently. I can see the writing on the wall with my own children. The long Memorial Day weekend started the incubation process of summer bickering. Bickering about who gets the low swing, bickering about who gets the green apple, bickering about who made it to the car first when it was clearly a tie.
So, what is a parent to do? Often, we jump in the middle of the problem and try to solve it for the kids. This usually ends up backfiring as they are NEVER happy with our solutions. And let's look at this from their perspective. If we were having a problem with a co-worker and started bickering with them about it, would we want our boss stepping in and telling us how to fix the problem without all the background information? Chances are his or her solution may not satisfy either party and one or both of you would feel resentful.
Here's a one liner that can save you the headache of listening to bickering: "You two work it out or I will." Make sure you clarify that your solution is to send them to their rooms until they can come out and be sweet. There are some real benefits for kids when parents use this approach. First, it lets them know that you expect them to handle their own problems. This sends a message that you think they are capable of handling it and thus builds self-esteem. Secondly, it gives them an opportunity to flex their negotiation muscle. This is one of the big benefits of having siblings. Kids can learn how to hone their negotiation skills if we do not interfere and we all know how important this skill is as an adult. Lastly, you are modeling how to take care of yourself, i.e., that you won't be hassled by listening to bickering. So how about letting your kids work it out themselves? You'll have a more enjoyable summer and so will they!