Siblings: How to harmonise skills gaps
Holiday happiness doesn’t depend on the amenities of the hotel, the size of the rental car or the amount of sunshine. It depends on your children’s ability to play together.
If your sports nut older son is stuck with a somewhat clumsier younger brother for two weeks, it can get tense.
How to minimise squabbling? Laidback summer sports include frisbee, soccer, ball and bat games, badminton and volleyball. Here's how I make them inclusive.
The simplest way to minimise frustrations is a handicap system. The kid who takes sports far too seriously needs 10 points while his (better socially adjusted?) sister only needs 5. The competitive kid will like the high expectations which have been signalled. He will often lose with good grace because superiority was implied from the start!
Secondly you can break things up by throwing in individual challenges within the same activity. So half an hour of football, however social, might be too much for the youngest or for the half-engaged. Break it up with the sort of penalty shoot-out competition you see on TV. You can move the kick-off spot further or nearer the target depending on age or size. Or the best footballer might stay in goals for the whole session. She might enjoy that if she's given some quick Youtube lessons on goal-keeping beforehand - again shas been "selected" and she has something to strive for. Equivalent adjustments for rounders include making the teams big kids v small kids and increasing the space between the bases depending on who’s fielding. If it’s wiser to keep the teams mixed, then you can add a couple of “dens” – extra bases only to be used by the youngest. And older kids should bat with a proper bat while their younger siblings can use a tennis racket.
Thirdly – recognise the patience which the older – or more skilful – children are displaying. Maybe they should be handed a whistle and be allowed to referee? Maybe they should organise a warm-up or a little coaching session? If they are part of a club or a team they will know dozens of training techniques which you have forgotten since your school days. Ask them to plan the activities for the outing and they’ll feel a sense of ownership.
This should compensate for the risk of being spotted by your peers as you play volleyball with a brother who still sucks his thumb.
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