Troubleshooting Sibling Disharmony: Arguing over the Computer
The Problem: We have one computer that the kids share. Every time one kid is on the machine and another asks for a turn, there is an argument. Usually this requires parental intervention. All of them are nit-picking over a limited resource and none of them are extending each other the benefit of the doubt.
Previous solutions which have not worked: Mediating individual arguments. Scolding kids and telling them to be nicer. Threatening to not let anyone use the computer if there is an argument about it changing hands.
New Plan and reasoning behind it:
1. I need to be better about limiting individual computer time. Kids tend to stay on the machine until someone tells them to get off, which leads to significant territorial behavior. No one wants to give up their turn because they know that getting back on will almost certainly require negotiation or argument. Limiting turns will make the computer seem more available. It will also force them to find other things to do, which will remind them that the world is full of fun things and not having the computer is not the end of the world.
2. On Sunday afternoons every person in the house is required to play a game with someone else who lives in our house. It can all be one big game, it can be a video game. The point is that we often disappear into our various electronic worlds and we need more times when we have fun together.
3. When we have family prayer the person who is doing the praying should take time to pray for something specific for each individual in our family. This means we’ll each have a turn being conscious of what the other people in our family need and what they are struggling with.
The best part is that these are only minor shifts. Granted, they will require an exertion of will, primarily from me, but they are small exertions. Even better, the only part of this plan likely to meet with resistance is the computer turn limiting. That one is going to be hard. I’m not good at remembering. Hopefully I’ll find a good software solution.
The experiment begins.
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