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Peace At Last!

Rule #2: Act Fast

Rule #2: Act fast (or not at all).

Imagine trying to pay bills with bickering like this going on:

"That's not the right way to do it."

"It is too."

"It's not. You're doing it wrong."

"I am not."

"You are too."

"Leave me alone."

"I'm just trying to help."

"Leave me alone."

"Here, let me show you how."

"Let go!"

Such a battle can go on forever. Pretty soon you won't be able to concentrate on what you're doing and you'll become increasingly irritated. By the time you speak up, it'll be because you're angry, and likely to scream something like "Stop it now! I am tired of the two of you fussing all the time. Can't you play together nicely for once? I am really sick of this. I mean it. I have had it with you two. I really have had it."

What's more, you'll have wasted a good ten minutes or more being angry and then trying to cool down.

The better way: Step in the moment you find yourself focusing on your kids' disagreement and not on what you're doing. Speak up before you have a chance to get mad. Say calmly:

"I'm working. If you can't play quietly, I don't want you together."

Repeat yourself if either child tries to engage you in her squabble with her sibling:

"But Gabriel isn't doing it right."

"If you can't play quietly, I don't want you two together. I'm trying to get some work done."

This isn't to say that whenever siblings start to bicker you should always say something. Sometimes it may not bother you, in which case it's best to leave well enough alone. (And sometimes, it's even a good idea to let a spat run its course.)