The Scenario: Your two daughters ages eight and six play together nicely, but when their two cousins who are similar ages come over, it’s bedlam. Within half an hour, your youngest will be crying over being excluded by her older sister from the games or play. You constantly have to intervene to keep any semblance of peace. What can you do?
The Solution: In this case, ignoring the problem or letting the children figure it out themselves is not likely to work. Things have gone on too far and their “positions” have become so entrenched that they can’t change on their own. Nor can you act as mediator—you’ve seen how successful that’s been!
Here’s a way to handle this. The next time the cousins are scheduled to come over, have your sons draw straws or flip a coin to determine which one of them will get to play with the cousins. The other child will stay away from the cousins and get her turn next time it’s playtime with the cousins.
You’ll likely have to do this for the next four or so times the cousins are at your house before you can ask your two daughters if one of them needs to play separately from the rest. This puts the onus of figuring out how to get along on the shoulders if your daughters, where it belongs.
Excerpted from Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available in October. Posted with permission of
Beacon Hill Press of . Kansas City