Sibling squabbling: Growing their connection through shared independent play

Pic: Flat Icon

Pic: Flat Icon

I have two little boys. They are both young, but our eldest is turning into a little boy, and our youngest is still navigating early toddlerhood. Most of the time they play together quite well, and of course, they are very often practicing their social skills on one another. Read: Annoying and irritating each other.  I think of them as a bit like magnets. Where the pull to be together is as equally strong as the push to be apart.

Yesterday we were at a loss for what to do. It felt like we had done everything we could think of. Their wails and frustration levelswere becoming more and more heightened and my presence wasn’t alleviating their struggles. Whichever way I tried to support their independent play wasn't working. It was time for some quick thinking.

Tray ready! 

Tray ready! 

“I have an idea” I announced.

Of course I didn’t. Eek.

A chorus of ‘ooh what mumma?” followed me.
“A surprise” said me, “we need to go inside”.  Thankfully, inspiration struck. A boredom buster, not taken from Pinterest, but, now I think about it, would probably be there if you searched.

I asked the boys to find some small diggers and dump trucks, and to get their little Roller (a toy replica of the machine that rolls roads). They scattered around the house practically dancing, already united in finding the objects.

I retrieved two trays languishing in the back of a cupboard and felt the thrill of shared excitement with the two boys. It was infectious. I rummaged through my dry goods, retrieving products like flour, oats, barley, icing sugar, pasta.  On each of the trays I deposited between half a cup and a cup of each of the dry goods. Both boys were watching me and firing questions, wanting to know what we were going to do next.

Onto the lawn we went. Each boy had their tray and started working on it. Cars, trucks, dump trucks and diggers were now hard at work. They shared toys back and forth, mostly quite amicably. Although I would recommend you have two dump trucks. We only had one, and it turned out to be the big ticket item. The squabbling had abated, and the feeling in the air was one of comradeship.

Tray fun! 

Tray fun! 

Towards the end of their play session, when everything was mixed together and well explored, I provided each boy with a spray bottle filled with water to use on their tray. It got messy, very very messy…. Just the way they like it!

I’m all for helping kids work through their squabbles so that social learning and practicing age-appropriate social skills can happen. But from time to time, doing a ‘pattern interrupt’ with some new-to-them open play, provides just the ticket for dissolving tension, and allowing reconnection.

How do you support your children with squabbles?