Any mother who has more than one child who can talk has heard these words: “It’s my turn!” It’s a phrase children learn very quickly.
When babies are born they are totally helpless, and they are dependent on others to feed, clothe, and care for them. It’s no wonder they enjoy being the center of attention–it’s all they know! When babies are able to sit in a baby chair or on the floor, they can entertain themselves with age-appropriate toys. Everything that is within their reach is theirs to enjoy, and they are still the center of their baby world.
“Associative play” occurs when two or more babies are playing in the same area (like a nursery), but their play is still independent. Each baby enjoys his or her their playthings, but there is little or no interaction between the babies. Next comes “cooperative play.” This is when two or more toddlers are playing with the same toys at the same time.
Let the battles begin!
As children grow and mature, they need to learn social skills if they want to survive. Sharing and taking turns is something that mothers, grandmothers, and teachers try to teach children at a very young age. We want our kids to be kind, to share, and to take turns when playing with other children. But what about on the home front? That is sometimes the hardest place to teach your children to be kind to each other and to take turns. Sibling rivalry goes back to the beginning of time. Cain and Able. Esau and Jacob. Joseph and his brothers. Need I say more?
When I was raising my kids I heard about a good solution to sibling rivalry and decided to give it a try. It worked! In fact it worked so well that we continued the “system” until they left for college (seriously!).
Here’s what we did:
Each of my children had a designated day to be the “child of the day.” Since I have 3 children, they each were assigned 2 days of the week. My oldest son had Mondays and Thursdays, my second son had Tuesdays and Fridays, and my daughter had Wednesdays and Saturdays. Whoever was the “child of the day,” got to choose the TV programs and the music to listen to. They got to sit in their favorite seat in the car and also at the dinner table. Anytime a choice had to be made, the “child of the day” had the authority to make the choice (within reason of course!). The “child of the day” not only had privileges, he or she also had responsibilities like setting the table, helping with dishes, leading devotions at the dinner table, and being the first one in the shower.
Did this system solve all of their squabbles? No. But it gave them a sense of fairness, respect for their siblings, and also a sense of responsibility. My son recently told me that when he and his wife have a family, they want to implement the “child of the day” system, because it worked so well.
So you might want to give it a try in your home. But there’s one more thing I need to tell you—my day was Sunday!
Here’s to happy homes and taking turns!