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If you have more than one child, or if you work in a classroom full of students, you know that kids frequently get into disagreements with one another. Many of those disagreements are over simple – dare I call them silly? – things like who gets to use the scissors first, whose turn it is to feed the hamster, or who gets to sit on the right side of the rug.
When these kinds of conflicts arise, I’ve discovered a very quick, very simple trick that helps my kids solve their disagreements peacefully nearly 100% of the time. In fact, you may already know this trick but never thought to use it to help your kids solve their disagreements.
Want to know what my special trick is?
The one simple trick I use to help kids solve conflict quickly and peacefully is rock-paper-scissors, also known as ro-sham-bo.
How to play rock-paper-scissors
Rock-paper-scissors is a simple game played between two people. Each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with their hands:
- Rock, made by balling the hand into a fist
- Paper, made by laying the hand flat
- Scissors, made by extending the first two fingers into a V like an open pair of scissors
After the players show their hand shapes, there are four possible outcomes:
- Rock beats scissors
- Scissors beat paper
- Paper beats rock
- If both people form the same shape, it is a tie and the players must try again
How I use rock-paper-scissors to help kids solve their conflicts
I taught this game to my kids when they were four years old. They are now five, and rock-paper-scissors is how they solve most of their simple conflicts. It is perfect for disagreements over things like who picks the first story or who gets to feed the cats.
When my kids get into a disagreement, I gently remind them to use this technique. But now that we’ve been using rock-paper-scissors to solve conflicts for so long, they sometimes decide to use it on their own without me having to suggest it.
To play, I encourage my kids to form their hand into a shape behind their back first.
Once their hands are ready, they count 1-2-3. On 3, they both show their hands.
Rocks beats scissors.
Scissors beat paper.
Paper beats rock.
And problem solved!
It took a bit of work on my part to help XGirl be okay with the outcome when she would lose. But now she has so much practice with this technique under her belt – and she sees that sometimes she wins and sometimes she loses – that she no longer fusses when the outcome doesn’t go her way.
The brilliant part of this technique is that no materials are needed, and it only take a few seconds to use. The outcome is fair and impartial. And best of all, rock-paper-scissors doesn’t require me to choose between my two kids, so I don’t have to be the “bad guy.”
Try it with your kids and let me know how it goes!
For more great parenting tricks, see my Parenting Tips Pinterest board.