It’s happening again–for the fourth time in as many hours your kids are fighting. This time it’s over who gets to drink from the blue cup. This is the first time they have ever mentioned a preference for this cup but now suddenly passions are high and this is a battleground neither child is willing to cede.
Tensions among siblings have always existed but the COVID-19 pandemic has found us all spending more time in close quarters. Students who were used to having ample space to themselves throughout the day now find themselves sharing everything with the other children in the house. Daily schedules with a set and reliable structure are suddenly a thing of the past. Anxiety and boredom may also be contributing to a general sense of uneasiness and tension for children, which can lead to more fighting than your family might be used to.
The uncertainty of our current situation can hit children particularly hard, especially if they already struggle with executive functioning skills like self-control and self-awareness. Children who have underdeveloped skills to calm themselves or an inability to realize when to defuse a situation may find themselves lashing out at their brothers and sisters more than ever. This combination can transform siblings into bundles of raw nerves–it’s no wonder that something as simple as a cup can now become a seemingly life or death situation.
Parents who homeschool year-round have also struggled with keeping the peace between their children. Some have devised several strategies that parents can implement to promote an environment of respect and sibling harmony. Jenny, a mother and creator of The Relaxed Homeschool, mentions several strategies that have worked for her family of four, including building in time for siblings to play cooperatively. She asserts that working together on a project can help your children see that they all have individual strengths that they bring to the table.
One way to address collaboration in your house is to incorporate it into your children’s screen time. Games where all children have to work together to solve a problem can highlight the importance of working together and may curb the next fight over TV shows, toys, or even a blue cup. Here are three examples of popular Nintendo Switch games that highlight collaboration as a key play feature.
Snipperclips is a great way to get your kids to work together while also exercising their puzzle solving skills. In this game, you play pieces of paper named Snip and Clip who need to work together to solve various puzzles. The fun part is that each player can “snip” pieces off of each other to form them into new shapes. These new shapes can then be used to solve the current puzzle. For example, cutting one player’s character into a pointy needle can help you pop balloons. Cutting a hole into your partner can help you carry a basketball to the hoop. There are many different ways in which to attempt to solve the puzzles but they all require working together. Snipperclips Plus allows for up to four players in a cooperative Party Mode so even more people can get in on the fun. Snipperclips is available at the Nintendo Switch EShop for $29.98.
Moving Out is one of the craziest ways to get your kids to work together. It is a game where you play movers who have just started their first day on the job with the Smooth Moves furniture company. Your job is to move all of the customer’s possessions into the truck within a specified time frame. However, unlike movers in real life, your characters have to contend with alligators, ghosts, flamethrowers, and a whole host of other obstacles. The players need to work together to move heavy objects, and communicate about where they should be placed in the truck. Because of the frantic pace of the task and the ridiculous scenarios in Moving Out, cooperation has never been so much fun. Moving Out is available on the Nintendo Switch EShop for $24.99.
Overcooked 2 is one of the most entertaining ways to have your kids work together. In the game, you play as chefs who are trying to save the Onion Kingdom from hordes of zombie toast called the “Unbread.” In order to do this, you need to go on a journey to train in making different types of food in all sorts of crazy environments (think pirate ship, hot air balloon, alien spaceships, etc.) In cooperative mode, players need to communicate with one another to get as many orders out of their kitchen as possible. No person is an island and no player can complete all the tasks in the kitchen by themselves. So players need to agree on assigned jobs and work with each other while trying not to start too many fires. Because of the frantic pace of the game things can quickly get crazy in the kitchen but it is honestly a lot of fun trying to coordinate your tasks and seeing just how many orders you can complete in the limited amount of time you have. Overcooked 2 is available on the Nintendo Switch EShop for $24.99
What games does your family use to encourage collaboration? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!