Your 7-year-old now
There has never been a family in which two siblings living in the same house at the same time didn't argue. Here's a three-step plan for handling sibling spats.
1. Define the problem. "What are you arguing about? Okay, you're arguing about who gets to control the remote right now."
2. Involve the kids in brainstorming solutions. "Let's see if we can come up with two or three ways to fix this. Sam, what do you think? Leah, do you have an idea about what would be fair?"
3. Pick a plan and agree on it. Make clear that there will be consequences if the disagreements continue – no screen time, for example, for example.
Once your kids have been through this process with you repeatedly, you might find that they actually start using it themselves.
Your life now
The surest way to keep the peace in the car on trips is to turn on an in-car TV or outfit each child with her own headphones and handheld games. This might promote family quiet, but that's not the same thing as family harmony.
Part of the fun on family trips is being together – for good and for ill. Limit how much you use electronics.
There are engaging alternatives: Listen to books on tape that everyone will enjoy. Play classic road games like Auto Bingo or keeping track of how many different states' license plates you see. Tell continuing stories, with each person contributing a sentence, round-robin style. Hokey? Sure. Memorable? Well, you remember doing it as a kid, don't you?
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