With girls, Two is company and Three's a crowd. Always try to have just two or four or more girls together at any time for playing.
When Neighbor Girl comes over, she prefers to play with Katie. Katie is 8, she is 10. Jenny is not yet 6, but naturally wants to be included all the time. Naturally, the age gap from 10 to 6 is big enough and is heightened by, firstly, NG being an only child, and secondly, NG having gone to traditional schools which segregate based on silly things like age.
The other day NG was here and Jenny was coming up to me every 10 minutes or so in tears. After a half hour of this, I had had enough. Older children must be nice and indulgent to younger children in my house. I refuse to be the constant arbiter of how much time one child is allowed to pester another child who wants to play with "his" friends alone. Be inclusive...or else!
So I told NG it was time for her to go home. And I told Katie it was time for her to clean her room. Twenty minutes later, Katie and Jenny were playing nicely together (in a clean room). NG took this personally and her mother kept her home yesterday.
How do you handle the neighbor kids? Other times I have doled out punishment (time outs, chores) to everybody, but I just wasn't in the mood that afternoon.
And how do you handle the pesky younger sibling issue? Do you grant older children their "privacy"? Or do you make them learn how to cope with difficult people by enforcing inclusivity?
And any suggestion on gender wars? Man, the battles are raging here. It's boys vs. girls on everything.