During this coronavirus pandemic, both parents of one child and those of multiple children are struggling. As a parent of only one child, it is a struggle as he constantly demands attention and/or a playmate. Obviously playmates are in short supply and I do have to work so that makes it tough for both of us. But what I’d like to talk about today is the struggles for parents of two or more children. While it is true that our only children may be jealous of those that have siblings to play with during this time of staying at home, it also causes many different problems. While all siblings are going to squabble, being together in the same location for this extended period of time is going to amplify any of those issues.
Here are a few tips to help:
- Accept that fights are going to happen. If you as a parent lose it every time the kids fight, it’s only going to heighten tension in the house.
- Have a routine in place that incorporates time alone for each child. It also helps to use a timer. When an activity goes too long, it is quite possible that this could start an argument too.
- Plan activities where they need to cooperate in order to complete. If they are working together, it is less likely they will view each other as rivals. Remember to give praise for positive interactions they have with each other. You may even want to reward some cooperative accomplishments.
- Distinguish between the concepts of “fair” and “equal.” This is particularly important when there is a significant difference in your children’s ages. What is equal is not always fair and often fair is not equal. While this concept is important during quarantine, it has much farther reaching implications in life itself.
- Create both indoor and outdoor zones around your house where children know they can go to be alone. Also think about a code word or phrase they can say that the whole household will understand if they need some space. Being able to have that can prevent many problems before they happen.
- Make sure you as parents carve out a little bit of time for each child. This is obviously easier said than done, but it is so important for everyone’s mental health.
- Use this opportunity as a chance to teach your children how to problem solve their own arguments. For suggestions on how to do this, you may want to look at this article from the New York Times.