Having a stereotypically girlie girl (think: skirts that twirl, dress-up, singing, dancing) and a stereotypically boyish boy (think: superheroes, Star Wars, Lego, gaming) born just 20 months apart, the two have spent a good majority of their lives bickering with each other. They can agree on almost nothing in their lives. If one were to say that the sky is blue, the other would argue until she was—quite literally—blue in the face that the sky was, in fact, NOT blue, if only because her brother said it was. They like different movies, different TV shows, different board games, different desserts, different everything. Now, thinking back to how I was with my three siblings as a young child, I realize that sibling rivalry is alive and prevalent in many families; my children are not unique.
But just because this type of constant arguing happens with lots of children, it doesn’t mean I don’t want it to stop.
And what ten and a half years of parenting has done for me has taught me an entirely fool-proof (and also ridiculously cute) way to stop the fighting, if only for five minutes (or three, or four, depending on your rules.) And the only things you need are a) some willpower, b) two hands and c) (this one is optional) a camera.
When the fighting gets to the point where you are ready to lose your mind; when you want to scream from the rooftops “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!” you simply take a deep breath and say the following words.
“Okay. Emily and Josh, I hereby sentence you to 5 minutes of hand-holding time.”
And then you watch them as they sit and hold holds quietly (they aren’t allowed to fight or talk at all!) for exactly five minutes. If they balk, which they probably will, you offer them a hug and a kiss on the cheek, if they’d prefer. I guarantee that they’ll choose the hand-holding, and I guarantee that they won’t like it.
But you will.
And even though it doesn’t permanently put an end to the fighting, it does cause them to think twice about the next few arguments. So there is some peace in our household, even if it’s just for a short while.
—Ali, Senior Associate Editor of Cf.ca