It’s important that my children learn to work together, right? To that end, I usually have them cleaning up their room, getting ready for bed, or setting the table at the same time. Recently I’ve realized that it’s also important for them to learn to work independently, and that it’s okay to separate them to get tasks done. Yeah, I know, it’s rocket science.
The driving force behind this realization was the resulting screaming, fighting, pushing and crying that occurred each time the girls were supposed to be brushing their teeth or picking up their toys. Something’s gotta give..and it’s not going to be me, cleaning up for them.
One reason they’ll end up fighting is because Drama Queen isn’t pulling her weight in Princess’ eyes, which as I’m sure you can imagine leads to arguing.
My first step in Sibling Separation, while still getting them to work together, was to start dividing tasks in half. When I have them picking up the living room or their bedroom, I will literally establish a dividing line down the middle of the room (easily done with the vacuum cleaner cord.) Sometimes it’s a matter of assigning the first step to one child and then the second step to the second child. However it can be divided. Now they’re cleaning the whole room together, but each is only responsible for her half. Now they don’t have to worry about what the other person is or isn’t doing. A dividing line (and a timer!) has worked wonders to diminish the fighting during clean-up time.
The other reason they end up fighting is simply old-fashioned-slibling-PROXIMITY. Well, that and selfishness. There they are standing in the bathroom to brush their teeth, elbow to elbow, fighting to get to the sink first. Figures.
The second step in Sibling Separation is ALTERNATING. Again, it’s rocket science, people. First you send one child to brush their teeth and then, this is important, you send the other one to put on their pajamas. And then…they switch. Genius, isn’t it? It’s just amazing. You can also have one pick up their half of the bedroom while the other takes a bath and vice versa. It’s amazing!
So yes, they need to learn to work together. So sometimes we do that. But they also need to be able to work separately (ever hear “I can’t” or “I need help?”) so sometimes we do that, too. And by doing so, there’s less screaming. And more working. And the world is a better place. Okay, our house is a better place for at least a few minutes. It works.
Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Rocks In My Dryer.
Also, read Stopping the Screaming, Part II.