Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Number Generators

When you have more than one child, disputes between them are like the ocean tides. They rise and fall according to the arcane pull of the moon, with the random tsunami generated by subterranean forces. Our family seems to be a fairly active planet in that regard. While some of these arguments are fueled by hunger or an inability to express their emotions (or overexcitabilities, or being tired, or too much sugar), some are simply the push and pull of siblings trying to work out their hierarchy and relationships. I say simply not in any demeaning or offhanded fashion. I have a sibling (older, as it happens) so I understand how intense these fights can seem, especially when you are in the middle of one.

Oftentimes, these arguments appear as the most ridiculous and inane issue to argue about (from the perspective of an adult who is often bone tired of listening to bickering for 3 straight hours). Who gets to sit in the favored spot at the table next to the wall where they can see the TV playing in the other room. Who gets to sit at the faucet end of the bathtub. Who is getting the tape off the shelf, or who is going to grab the oatmeal from the pantry first. Tears usually ensue from the loser of the argument. Sometimes from the winner as well as the loser retaliates.

We finally hit upon a couple of pretty fair ways to resolve these disputes, that the kids have accepted as the final decision makers in many of these situations. First we have the old favorite of rock, paper, scissor. After many "rock" ties, somebody usually slips up and does paper or scissors. Usually by this time the frayed nerves have given way to the thrill of the game so the intensity of the argument is dispelled.

Our other tool has become the random number generator. It can be as simple as a roll of the dice to as complicated as a random number generating app. The kiddos seem to prefer the latter option, as Greg now has TWO of them installed on his phone. It is an awesome thing to see the anger and frustration fade into delight and laughter. I really ought to put one onto my phone as well for the inevitable pull of the tides.

Obviously there can be many more creative solutions to the bickering, but these are two that have consistently worked for us lately. What creative solutions have you come up with? I would love to have more ideas for when I am fresh out of them.

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