When Oil and Water Play Together

How many of you have two or more children? If so, you probably have any idea of what you are about to read. Cats and dogs don’t mix, I’ve heard that Republicans and Democrats don’t mix (but I”m not all that political), orange juice and toothpaste sure don’t mix, but I’m going to write about the best known things that don’t mix…oil and water! I think the reason these two liquids don’t mix is because once shaken they work so hard to separate back into two layers of liquid. Oil and water have become the nicknames for my kids when they are shaken by disagreeing, fighting or “he said, she said” issues, they just don’t mix well together and things always end in a screaming match between them — then there’s crying and whining which does NOT mix well with my rising blood pressure.

So why can’t two children, brother and sister, seem to play nicely for more than 10 minutes?  Maybe it’s genetics, or some crazy built in timer, but whatever the case there are solutions to getting your kids to play nicely together. One of the reasons my kids don’t play well together is we have a (soon to be) 6 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. They both have their own likes and dislikes when it comes to playing with toys, games or shows on TV.  There is that rate moment though when they both agree on the same thing and that is so cool to watch! It happened last night, there was no fighting, arguing, crying, pulling hair or tattling on the other. They played “house” and my son was the boy and my daughter was a doggy. Sometimes I think she really thinks she is a dog because she could go on and on in the “dog role” for hours – no lie! So they were in their playroom, a wild mix of Spiderman, Legos, Polly Pocket and Littlest Pet Shop, and built a house from a little tent and blanket and played perfectly together. They even invited me in to be the “pretend daddy” (weird, cuz I AM their Daddy – so why be pretend…). I was in charge of turning off the playroom light when it was pretend nighttime and what do ya know, they laid down my son in the play tent and my “dog” daughter outside.  Then the light came back on and they woke up and did morning stuff, my son feed the dog, walked her and then they started tackling each other. (It had been ten minutes and I could hear the timers going off in their heads) I was afraid things would get worse at this point but to my surprise they didn’t bump heads or accidentally scratch or poke an eye, they just giggled and rolled around.

So I guess oil and water CAN play nicely together as long as something does not shake and mix them

Some tricks that should help your kids play and interact together:

  • Plan structured activities for the children. Like crafts, coloring, helping clean the house (yes, my kids love to do this)
  • Compliment good behavior and sharing when the kids display it.
  • Schedule family game time so the whole family has fun playing board games and learning from parents how to play nicely together (might be hard for my wife, she likes to win)
  • If necessary, sit in the room with them and watch them play. Be a parent and guide them on how to interact and play together.
  • And parents, always act like a kid (one thing that I’m trying to do better)

And if worst comes to worst there is always complete separation of the “liquids”, oil in one room and water in the other room. Then there is no chance of mixing them up and starting sibling rivalry. By the way, I’m more of a ranch dressing Dad!

Jeff Tincher is a father of two children (boy and girl) and a husband to a great wife. Jeff lives with his family in Chester County PA and is the Dad behind Daddy’s Toolbox, a Dad Blog about his personal experiences raising his children and all of the bumps, bruises, meltdowns and fun times that go hand-in-hand. Jeff is also a social media fanatic and enjoys networking on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You can follow Jeff (a.k.a. @DaddysToolbox on Twitter) and read more at DaddysToolbox.com.

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