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HudsonHero's avatar

How can I survive my kids nitpicking each other all summer?

Asked by HudsonHero (245points) May 26th, 2011

My kids are 5,6 and10. School is almost out. They are great kids until they are together and they pick on each other. They fight about looking at each other wrong, making weird noises and who broke up the lego thing they created. Any good ideas how to get them not to fight so I can survive this summer?

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17 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I have 3 young kids and I feel your pain.

My wife and I are fortunate to have agreed many years ago that we will not get involved unless there is blood or something outrageous is about to happen. They are forced to work out stuff on their own. There is some fighting, but it’s interesting to listen to the cycle and have them work it out.
Of course, everyone is different, but I feel that this approach has worked with our kids. I have seen parents get involved, which inevitably involves a combination of picking sides (consciously or not) and the concept that the solution to their interpersonal issues sits with an outside party. My kids know that no amount of whining to us will get us in on the dispute. So the motivation to work something out between each other usually pulls them around to some kind of compromise.
Again, results may vary.
Oh, and this might not address your real question: how do you survive the noise of such absurd bickering, etc? Well, that will be a tougher challenge. I find that reminding myself that they are children, and that this is normal, goes a long way. I can’t expect them to be calm, reasonable adults. Heck, I can hardly expect the adults in my life to act like calm, reasonable adults.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Two words my friend, Tylenol and Xanax. For you, not for the kids, LOL.

cheebdragon's avatar

Summer camp….?

wundayatta's avatar

Send them to summer camp.

marinelife's avatar

What about setting up a large jar. Every time they fight, the fighters have to put a quarter in it. If they don’t have a quarter, they have to do a chore to earn it.

At the end of the summer, the jar could go to a children’s charity of their choosing (you provide several options for them to pick from)/

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Cupcake's avatar

Keep them busy.
Provide some structure/schedule.
Reward good (cooperative) behavior.
Give them (small?) daily chores.
Have them alternate setting the lunch menu.
Arts and crafts.
Pay them to do extra stuff around the house.
Go on a daily walk/bike ride/trip to a local park.
Visit the library regularly.
Assign them a summer project with a related end-of-summer reward (ie. maybe one likes science and can study tadpoles and write a science report and then you all can go to a local stream and try to catch some).

Good luck!!!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Enroll them in swimming lessons or little league. I also like the summer camp idea.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Gee, I have the same problem with my two boys, ages 31 and 27!!! If you find something that works, let me know.

WestRiverrat's avatar

We lived in the country, so my mom kicked us out after breakfast with a sack lunch and did not let us back in until it was time to wash up for supper.

boffin's avatar


Actually @Cupcake has some darn good ideas. Getting the kids to co-operate, well that’s where the booze might come in handy.For you, not for the kids,

Blondesjon's avatar

Spankings all around.

it worked really well on not only my children but my pets as well. you never hear a peep out of our goldfish abraham.

Sunny2's avatar

When my two kids were bickering more than I could bear, I told them to go to their rooms and they could NOT play with each other. Next thing I heard, they were playing together so quietly, they thought I couldn’t hear. I let them get away with that, since that’s what I wanted in the first place. I don’t know if this would help with your kids or if you have the luxury of separate bedrooms. I think it would help with the 5 and 6 year olds. The 10 year old needs older activities. Is there a library program in your community? Or day camp? Something to make him/her feel more mature?

YARNLADY's avatar

When my (now adult) grandsons were growing up, I always took them for a walk when they started in bickering too much. It became a threat of punishment “If you don’t stop bickering, we will go for a walk” which either quieted them down, or got us all out the door for a nice long walk.

Blondesjon's avatar

@YARNLADY . . . very nice :)

BarnacleBill's avatar

I found TV made them cranky. Schedule the day out, including free play. They should be doing some reading, math activities, writing, etc. When my youngest was 5, she memorized the multiplication tables, and would spend hours circling dots into sets on a piece of paper.

Find some big boxes and let them make things that they can get in. Kids don’t do enough building and free play; everything is in kits or adult led.

Have them create board games and play them. Have them put on plays. Teach them to cook; let them make lunch or dinner. Go places.

Send them out to play ball games that aren’t adult led, or requires a coach or adult referee. If they can’t settle their own arguments, then send them to their rooms.

MissAusten's avatar

Lots of good ideas, but I kind of skimmed so if I repeat I apologize. :)

Divide and conquer. If possible, sign up one or two kids at a time for a summer day camp. Around here the camps are pretty expensive, but we usually manage to get the kids into one or two camps over the course of the summer. They aren’t all gone at the same time, so they get to take turns getting some one-on-one time with me. My 12 year old daughter really appreciates this break from her younger brothers.

Be strict with your expectations and model what you want them to do when they disagree. Don’t step in at the first sign of trouble, but encourage them to work it out themselves. I draw the line at mean names and physical fighting but give positive reinforcement when they come up with a solution themselves. There’s a book called Siblings Without Rivalry that you may want to read. It has great tips for getting the kids to work together more.

Take the oldest child aside and encourage him or her to sometimes be a leader for the younger kids. My younger ones look up to their big sister so much and will resort to teasing her if they want her attention. I’ve straight out told her that the boys will do anything she wants if she’s nice to them. She will invent elaborate games for them to play and they are just thrilled to be doing something with her. Once in a while I will bribe her to keep the boys occupied!

Make them go outside. Stock up on inexpensive outside toys like a garden sprinkler, balls, hula hoops, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, or whatever. Bring out something different when the kids get bored.

Start a reward program. The kids earn checks (or stickers or tally marks) by getting along and doing chores. They lose checks for fighting or not listening. When the kids have earned a total of, say, 30 checks, they can choose a special activity like getting ice cream or going to a favorite place. Since earning the reward depends on all of them keeping the checks they earn, they will actually encourage each other to be nice, listen, help, and avoid fighting.

Invite friends over. It may seem strange to think that having more kids around will be easier, but when my kids have friends over they are so busy they forget to bother each other.

Go places. Arrange to meet the kids’ friends at a park or something. Find the free or no cost entertainment options in your area and take advantage of them. Like having friends over, doing something interesting out in public gives the kids something to do besides think of ways to annoy each other. Get out of the house and stay busy. Don’t use the TV or video games too much (reserve them for times you REALLY need a bit of peace and quiet).

There are plenty of resources online with ideas for activities and games for kids. Look some up!

By the way, it is OK to insist your kids give you a break. We have a summer routine that has a mommy break worked in. When I have my afternoon coffee, no one is allowed to talk to me unless there’s an emergency. I sit in the shade with my coffee and a book, sip slowly, and keep an eye on the kids while they play. When I’m done, they can ask me to push swings or catch bugs or whatever. The break is nice for me and I think it’s important for kids to be able to respect a parent’s needs as well. It isn’t always all about them!

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