My children lived in a house with ten other very different personalities who all shared one and a half bathrooms. Just imagine the tact it required to squeeze any sink and mirror time in the bathroom if you happened to have five or six older sisters!
The kids learned interpersonal techniques through the old trial and error method. I did not tolerate fighting or yelling among them, so each child had to figure out which approach gained co-operation from another sibling. I was proud of their negotiating skills.
For example, one evening when Matthew was seven and his brother David was two, Matthew sat on the floor and reached over the edge of the tub to play with his little brother who was in bubbly, warm water.
I smiled in anticipation and nodded.
“Watch this”, Matthew commanded.
He asked David, “David, do you want the orange ball or the blue boat?”
David chose the blue boat.
Hardly taking a breath, Matthew asked his little brother the very same question but this time he changed the word order of his request, “Dave, do you want the blue boat or the orange ball?”
David dropped the boat and reached for the ball.