I operated with a few basic rules. bed time was set at 7.30pm. dinner, bath, story, bed in that order. as they got older they could be allowed to have the light on for another 10 mins if they were reading. meals were at the table and conversation was always allowed. cereal and juice for breakfast, then dressed and out the door. I made the sandwiches for lunches while they ate breakfast. no tv on in the mornings, no wasting time. I cant remember getting involved with the squabbles, unless someone was getting too upset, or violence was about to erupt. toys were removed if that was a source of conflict, and as they got older grounding was the most common punishment. I never made a thing of organising play dates, I had four kids of my own, enough playtime with just them. desserts were not common, not even ice cream, fruit was the only option , if they were still hungry after dinner. and only water after they had cleaned their teeth before bed. im sure I had other rules, but these are what I can remember for now. kids need some rules, and some consequences for breaking the rules. it has to be a fluid time because the children get older, and the circumstances change, but if they grow up with rules, they can accept that rules can be changed. marie.