There is a Time to Be Together and There is a Time to... Not



Dear Kendra,


I was curious if you'd had any thoughts on teaching kids to play well together versus giving them separate activities.



Funny how these questions are posed just when we seem to be dealing with an issue ourselves.


For the most part, I like my kids to be together.  I like them to learn to solve problems together, I like them to learn how to accept each other's differences, and I like that they often are squeezed enough that they have to learn to give up ground to one another.  This is the benefit of having more than a couple of children.


On the other hand, there seems also to be a time to separate.  Today, for instance.  My, my, my, you should have heard them.  I actually posed the question, "Do you love each other?  Because it doesn't sound like it.  In fact, it sounds as if you hate each other."  Bicker, bicker, bicker.

Now, environmental issues aside (seems we are in need of sleep and the end of Daylight Savings Time), today was a good day to separate.  So for quiet hour, each child had to separate themselves completely from anyone else.  And they had to contemplate their attitudes.  The little ones slept, which they very much needed.


They resumed play together after a time of separation.


My point, I suppose, is that I don't think there is always a need to force our children to play together.  Balance, you know?  Context, too.  And while I will always choose for them to do the hard thing, such as learning to yield a preference to someone else, I do think there is a time for quiet, solitary play in which no one else destroys anyone else's block tower, coloring page, or Lego creations.