My kids bicker too.
And I don't expect that they'll play together. They're different ages, stages, and I respect that my eldest doesn't want a 'baby' interfering in his play.
But I DO set up activities to support them to play alongside each other. It's great practice for them to how to play with others, how to take turns and how to can play with each other again in the future.
1. Choose a neutral toy/resource that you have a lot of pieces of. Here we're using gem stones. By neutral I mean that that don't belong to either child and nobody is possessive over them or has an agenda for how they should be played with.
2. Add 3 containers or other toys that work alongside. One each and one that they can work on together.
3. Play with them. A play set up is never going to miraculously make them play wonderfully together. You play a big role here - so join in!
4. Split the toys evenly so that they both have parts to play with. So I gave august a bowl with gem stones and Etta a bowl with gem stones.
4. Show them how they can work together to do something. I showed the kids they could take turns to put stones in an old bottle to fill it up and make clinky noises.
5. Redirect kids back to their own set up if they're struggling with the turn taking. This means they're still playing alongside each other successfully.
6. Respond to each child at their level. August (4) likes to pretend the gem stones are types of cheese that he's selling us so I do that. Etta (22m) likes to talk about which ones do and don't fit in the bottle. I can respond to both kids differently and further their interests yet we're all playing together.
Think about the toy multiples you have in your house and see what you could set up. Ideas: stones out the garden, blocks, lego, magnet tiles, pens/crayons, play food.
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