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I try really hard to give my children the tools they need to problem solve on their own. However, lately, the competition between ds (almost 7) and dd (just about 3.5) has escalated to the point of insanity. Some examples. They want to see who can get buckled into their carseats the quickest. So, this started as a seemingly healthy, simple competition...now, it has become them fighting to get into the car 30 minutes *before* it's time to leave to go somewhere! Ds says he can't take the time to brush his teeth because he needs to get into the van before dd. I, of course, insist he go brush his teeth.... Saturday, the argument of who got buckled first turned into who could get *un*buckled first, and they both unbuckled their carseats ****WHILE THE CAR WAS STILL MOVING****. We were in a parking lot, going about 3-5 mph, so I mashed on the breaks a bit, to send them both stumbling, then parked and explained WHY they needed to keep their carseats buckled. This morning, it was who could finish their breakfast faster....so they are both shoveling their food into their mouths, arguing with full mouths, really using bad manners, but more importantly, again, breaking safety rules (no talking with your mouth full, no shoving food in your mouth...you could choke, etc). I have tried both intervening to explain the "it's not whether you win or lose, it is how you play, and the whole not being a sore loser thing" but it hasn't helped. I have tried staying out of it completely, but then it escalates to someone screaming, yelling, hitting, kicking, etc. It turns violent. I *then* step in and do the whole "That is NOT how we solve problems" thing and suggest a healthy way of communicating your displeasure...

But it is getting worse. Saturday's incident really, really scared me. But they get so focused on the competition part that it's like they don't even hear me! Help. HOW do I refocus this into a healthy, fun competition? We play games together, card games, and candyland and chutes & ladders, etc. We have races to see who can make their bed faster.... I need help to figure this out. IS this even healthy? Are they learning some major life coping skill that I'm not seeing? Or is it just plain old destructive? And how do I intervene, refocus, redirect them?

Thanks so much!
 

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What about the slowest race? My super competitive dd's (8,6,4) were slowly turning dinner into a pie eating contest. We started trying to see who could slow down the meal. This could and does back fire from time to time. Like when dinner takes four hours
What has worked is too use the slowest/neatest race to take the joy out of competitive racing for daily chores. Every now and then we have Olympic days where everything is a race. Then on the other days racing is banned.
 
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