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How do you get dawdling kids ready for school without resorting to bribes, threats, or raised voices?
The Hunger Games. My kids are not the same age, so we add handicaps. But they’re basically in the suburban version of.
When they get up in the morning the first kid that’s dressed gets to set the table. Since they’re competitive over who gets which color plate, etc. This is a real thing. Once they’re at the table first kid done with eggs gets to pick the pancakes, or whatever the breakfast courses are, etc. This doesn’t make them rush, nothing could make them rush, but its a way to get them to refocus on eating instead of talking or playing at the table. Hunger games.
When we’re going somewhere we race to see who can get to the car and buckle up first. Since my youngest is 3, we’re still helping him, but even then his older sister, 5, beats us both. She used to take forever getting into her car seat. Now she can buckle herself faster than I can buckle her brother. And I’m pretty competitive. I’m only a little ashamed to say that I’ve legitimately tried to beat her and failed.
When we get home after swim class first kid that gets undressed and has pajamas in hand gets first turn at the tub. This is good because the water’s hotter and still has bubbles. Second kid never spends as much time, its just not the same experience.
One thing you find out when your kids win and lose something 10 times a day is that there are lots of opportunities to work on attitude about winning and losing. At first, they pretty much acted how you’d expect them to act: the winner would gloat a bit and the loser would cry a bit. After winning and losing a few hundred times, they’re to the point where winning means getting to magnanimously offer the other some of the spoils, and the loser gets to prove their good sportsmanship by congratulating the winner.
I’m only a little ashamed to say that I’ve legitimately tried to beat her and failed.
We have a saying in our house: you don’t always get to choose the games you play, you just get to choose whether you win or lose.
My kids aren’t going to be reading or watching The Hunger Games for a few years, but when they do they’re going to be familiar with it already. They may not be perfect. But they’re fast when they want to be.
Jonathan Brill is a writer whose work has been published by Forbes, Time, and the Huffington Post. You can read more from Quora here:
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