Bickering is enough to drive any homeschooling parent crazy! As important as teaching our children academics may be, teaching them how to resolve their disagreements is even more important. Although your home may never be totally free of bickering, taking these proactive measures will help keep the peace for now and reflect the Christ-like character that God desires in a conflict when they are old.
Split them apart
Send your children into different rooms or have one child play outside while the other remains indoors. Your homeschoolers may simply need a break from one another.
Put them to work
Work is a four-letter word that catches a child's attention. Assigning an extra chore or two was the favorite remedy used to stop squabbles in our family.
Remove the object
If your children are fighting over a particular toy, take it away from both of them for at least a week. Children learn that they both lose if they are unable to resolve the problem. However, each child should also be allowed to have things that are strictly his that he is not required to share with siblings.
Enforce a naptime
Are your children just plain tired? Fatigue makes everyone edgy, especially children. Send each child to his room for a 15 to 30 minute quiet time. Older children can read books or write, but they must lie down and rest quietly.
When failure to share is the cause of bickering, teach your children some old favorite negotiation techniques for deciding: paper, rock, scissors; pick a number between 1 and 10, draw the short straw or toothpick, or flip a coin. My personal favorite when splitting one remaining item between two children was one child does the dividing, and the other child is first to pick which piece he wants. I was always amazed how equal things became!
Provide creative play
Keep the arts and crafts supplies handy throughout the winter. Give your children something to create and eliminate those "stuck in the house" days that lead to boredom and conflict. A fun wintertime activity your child can do is the Live Butterfly Garden® kit which teaches the process of metamorphosis as caterpillars change into beautiful butterflies. Equally exciting is the Grow-A-Frog® kit.
Watch a Christian video
Children can cool off their emotions and learn valuable life lessons while watching family, Christian-themed videos such as the fully animated Character Builders™ series. Each captivating video teaches young boys and girls the importance of godly character.
Teach conflict resolution
Children must learn to speak respectfully to each other and use the right words and tone when expressing disagreement. Teach them to stay calm, take turns saying what's bugging them, and to brainstorm for fair solutions to their problem. Encourage plenty of "I'm sorry" and "You're forgiven" statements during their resolution. A child must learn to deal with conflict and ask for what he needs without name calling, throwing a tantrum, or using anger to intimidate siblings.
Let them work it out
Too much intervention by parents leads to tattle telling and dependency on mom and dad to solve every problem. Unless physical harm is pending, give your children a warning and don't take sides. We always told our children, "Do you really want us to be the ones to decide how this is going to be resolved?" Somehow, they knew things would be easier if they came up with a solution.
How do you resolve daily conflicts in your homeschool? We'd love to hear about it. Please share your comments below!