Kid of the Week

As a parent of three children, all born within a four year span, I was quickly initiated into the world of sibling spats. These generally were prompted by situations that arise in every family’s life on a daily basis—who gets to sit in the front seat, who gets the last piece of candy, who gets to pick first when dessert is dished up, who goes to the ball game with Dad when he is given fewer tickets than he has children, who gets to push the button in the elevator, and whose turn it is to go first at some childhood endeavor.

We settled many of these disputes before they even occurred with our Kid-of-the-Week plan. Each child was assigned Kid-of-the-Week status on a rotating basis. At the beginning of each calendar year, I wrote the name of the “KOW” on each Sunday for the entire year on the family calendar. The children knew at all times which of them was the Kid-of-the-Week and when it would be their own turn. The way things worked in our family is that the current week’s “KOW” got first pick at whatever came up during that week, next week’s “KOW” got second pick, etc.

Instead of being worn down as a parent by being pulled repeatedly into childish disputes, it was quite rewarding to hear them work out their differences using the family rules and parameters of the Kid-of-the-Week. Whenever a situation arose, it was usually settled very quickly with a cry of, “I’m Kid!” On rare occasions, a parent would have to intervene by asking the question, “Well, who is Kid this week?” and all was settled.

One additional way that we sometimes used the Kid-of-the-Week was to allow the “KOW” to stay up an additional 30 minutes past bedtime on occasion for one-on-one time with one or both parents. There were times when we were pressed for time in the parenting department and realized that we were spending less individual time with the children than we would have liked, and this system provided a way to assure that each child got some extra parental time on a regular basis.

The Kid of the Week system allowed our children to exist a bit more harmoniously, to avoid habitual quibbling that can interfere with sibling relationships, and to learn to solve their own problems. Most importantly, the children considered this a fair way to settle situations and we had few arguments about fairness over the years. They learned to take turns, and they learned that they are not always the center of their universe. Conversely, the system proscribed an appropriate time frame during which each child was treated as first and most important. The system also took the parent out of the position of referee by codifying a method of dispute resolution that the children recognized as authoritative and could handle among themselves.

I am not quite sure when in the course of raising our children we no longer needed the Kid-of-the-Week plan, but at some point it became unnecessary and died a natural death. I do know that it was very useful for many, many years to our children as a guideline for learning to get along with others as they were growing up.

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