Having these four animals children caged up in the house for the summer has tested the limits of brotherhood. The four little pillars of brotherly love I used to know have been replaced by temperamental, moody dudes with short fuses.
We start the morning and they fight over who gets which cereal. Even when there is enough for everyone. Then they fight over the bowls. Even though I went out and bought four of the exact same bowls. Then, there is a debate over who has more milk. Or the bigger spoon. We move on to whose t-shirt is the coolest, or whose pants are longer, or whose shoes are better. What television show to watch, what game to play on the iPad, all of these are mine fields to avoid.
I take them outside to play, but then they fight over who gets the ball, or whose turn it is to throw the rock, or which one of these identical bikes “is mine.”
So we go out to run errands and there are arguments over which car seat to sit in, who can get in the car faster, and who gets to hold that one toy they all want right now. These boys fight over socks, superhero cups, and pajamas. They run everywhere and the boy that gets there first turns to the others and says, “I win you.”
There are moments of peace, too. The three-year old has recently begun asking for me to dress him and the baby in the same shirts so they can be “partners.” They all work together when sneaking snacks out of the pantry—the six-year old causes a diversion, the four-year old serves as the lookout, the three-year old scales the shelves, and the one-year old sits in the pile of crumbs and wrappers and takes the blame. So, there is still teamwork.
Still, I’ve been trying to come up with good parenting strategies that give them an incentive to get along. I’ve tried group/tandem time outs and quiet time in separate rooms. I’ve also decided that all “movie money” they earn goes into one jar, so they applaud each other for good behavior.
Alas, we’ve only skimmed the surface. I’ve turned to the Internet for more suggestions, and I’ve found other parents have posted some creative ideas.
Here’s my favorite below. Think this will work?