I Gave My Kid PTSD by Making Her Wear a 'Get Along Shirt'

Okay, not really. But it was an epic meltdown. I’m sure you’ve seen these “get along shirts” on Pinterest or on social media, right? Basically, it’s Dad’s extra large t-shirt that two kids have to wear at the same time when they are not getting along (you can pick one up at Etsy for around $32.00). My cousin had a “get along closet” that she used to put her fighting kids in (with a light on) until they came out in better spirits. They hated it. I figured the shirt would be less traumatic than that. I thought it would be a way to get everyone laughing. Boy, was I wrong.

My youngest thought it was hilarious and a fun game, but the oldest wasn’t having any of it. She physically refused to get in it and when I quickly threw it over her head, madness ensued. She was on the ground, red as a beet, having the meltdown of her life. Her sister and I stood over her trying to suppress the giggles. Something has to be done about the fighting! These girls fight so much, people not related to us call them “the squabblers.” But the “get along shirt” was, sadly, not for us. Later that night when I told their father I had tried it, he was actually upset — with me! Who knew wearing an extra large shirt was so controversial! It’s a good thing I didn’t try the “get along closet!”

But the fighting was out of control. The constant arguing, accusing, bickering, name-calling, poking, prodding, and otherwise annoying the other was going to make me lose my mind (or possibly I already did considering I resorted to making them share a shirt). So what did I do? I turned to Pinterest again, of course, and I found this brilliant “get along jar.” This is much different than the shirt, which forces them to share space together and it’s much kinder and more practical in tone. The sticks in the jar each have a fun activity (or chore) that they must complete together like “write a story,” “do a puzzle,” or “water the plants.” I decided to try it because I was desperate for some peace.

The first time they fought I pulled out the jar and told them they had to pull one activity and do what it said. They were both full of trepidation. The first task was “do 15 slap-ups” (which is a warm up exercise they do in Jiu Jitsu as a partner activity — push-ups with a high five in between). They were laughing and getting along well before they hit 15. Afterward, the younger one said, “can we do another?” and the older one was laughing and not beet red on the ground having a fit. The genius of this “punishment” is that it isn’t a punishment at all, but utilizes creative ideas to get them working together doing something fun and not focusing on their disagreements. This is the goal, isn’t it? To get them playing nicely with one another?

I think I found it. The holy grail of “get along” ideas. Try it! It works!