Surprising Solutions to Sibling Rivalry: Revisiting the Night Time Routine

IMG_1868I have good kids, generally speaking. But as my youngest nears her third birthday, I have been noticing an, ehemmm, increase in sibling conflict. So we’ve started doing two new things to help our kids feel more connected and accepted. We added a boisterous game called “You’re Mine!” and “The Story of Today” into our night time routine. These two additions to our daily routine turned my kids around in two days— at least temporarily (knock on wood).

With this new routine in place, my son started cleaning up after himself more regularly, and helping his sister. They started missing each other at school, and playing together without fighting!  I’ve only had to intervene in TWO fights in the last five days. (Picking myself up off the floor.) I certainly feel more like helping and cooperating when I know I am loved and included. I imagine that they are simply feeling more attached to the family—more connected to my husband and me, and to each other.

You’re Mine

The “You’re Mine!” game is adapted from an article by Dr. Laura Markham. My husband and I sit on opposite sides of the room and try to catch one of the children as they run by.  Playing the ham, we “fight” over our kids, with lots of bumbling and messing up, of course.  It delights them endlessly. If my husband catches my son I yell “No fair! I want C! Let him go! It’s my turn!” My husband refuses. My daughter tries running to my husband and he catches her too, saying, “I Love A! I won’t ever let her go!” I say, “No let her go! I Love her! You can’t have her!” When one of them escapes, I finally get to catch them. We playfully fight for possession of each of them for about ten minutes.  According to Dr. Markham this type of play makes each child feel special and the laughter releases stress from the day.  When it is over we then transition into a game of “I Spy” to calm down for bed.

The Story of Today

At bedtime we used to have a ritual of asking the best and worst thing that happened each day, but I had forgotten it for some time.  Then I ran across Magda Gerber’s recommendation to narrate the day at bedtime.  And so became “The Story of Today” I start off telling the story of what happened in the morning and the kids are enthralled. “What else Mom? What else happened?” they ask over and over.   The parts of the day I don’t know, they help me fill in.  I never used to know much about what happened at school for example, but now I know so much more.  A great method to help them process the happenings of the day unexpectedly turned into a way to know my children better, as well.

It can be hard to stop what you are doing in the busy evening hours in between the dinner and bedtime rush but once we figured out how to build it in, it made the transition to bed time much easier and created a happier home life.  I think that’s worth it, don’t you? What does your family do to make things run smoothly?  I’d love to hear any new tips in case this ever wears off 😉

2 thoughts on “Surprising Solutions to Sibling Rivalry: Revisiting the Night Time Routine

  1. My husband and I were playing a game like “You’re Mine” the other day with our kids, and when we did it with the 5yo, she was happy for a minute and then she got REALLY upset. Not screaming or anything, but her face just sort of washed over and she got tears in her eyes and started to get that I’m-trying-not-to-cry look. I think the idea of us fighting over her really freaked her out. She LOVES it if we try to “get” her, swipe at her as she runs by, etc., but the fighting over her thing put her over the edge. Interesting, huh?

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