Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"There's no hitting in this house!"

Who instigates most of the sibling fights in your house?  Is the youngest looking for some attention from an older sibling?  Or, the oldest taking out some frustrations on the younger one?  Is the middle one always spoiling things for the others?

When we think we know who started it, the temptation is to referee and assign blame.
 “Jimmy, if you can’t settle down like the others, there will be no story for you!”
 “Jane, you’re older. Let your little sister have the toy!”                               
 “There’s water all over the bathroom floor! Which one of you did this?”

Here is the second in our series of Key Principles to create the close, cooperative relationships we so dearly want between our children.

Principle #2:  “Put them in the same boat.” Or, another way of looking at it, STOP taking sides!

Taking sides encourages kids to point the finger with the hope of swaying a parent.

We also run the risk of placing a child in a role, giving them a label: the aggressor, the victim, or the responsible one. The problem is that a label can stick, and our child may live up to our expectations of them. (By the way, there is no good label. Labels restrict a child. Anyone who grew up having to be the responsible one will attest!)

Putting them in the same boat encourages an attitude of we are in this together and underlines the idea that bystanders are responsible too. When it comes to conflict between children, it’s more important to find a solution than it is to find out who done it.

Shift your focus from one of blame to one of solutions.
It will sound more like this…
   “I’m willing to read stories when all is quiet.”
   “Girls if you’re having trouble sharing the toys, why don’t you play separately for   awhile.”
  “Boys, there’s water all over the bathroom floor.”

And if they try to blame:
“Ben did all of the splashing, not me.”
“Did not!”
You can say, “It’s not important to me who did it. What’s important right now is what are you boys going to do about it?”

Here’s to more harmonious days ahead!

Beverley & Doone
P.S. Missed Principal #1? Click here -> “I hate my brother!”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"I hate my brother!"

Want your kids to stop fighting? Wish they acted more kindly towards one another? Maybe you even dream about them being best friends when they grow up? Well, if what you’re doing now isn’t working – it’s time for a change. 

While sibling rivalry is very common in families, much of it can be avoided. One big contributor to the problem is something most parents do, too often - deny their children’s feelings. 

We think we’re being helpful when we say things like:
  • “Don’t say you hate Mike, he’s your brother - you love him.”
  • “We don’t use that word in this house. It’s not nice.”
  • “That’s no way to talk to Lauren! You’re lucky you have a sister.”
There are 2 Key Principles to creating the close, cooperative relationships we so dearly want between our children.

Principle #1: Stop denying a child’s feelings. Instead, acknowledge their feelings, empathize and explore alternative actions.

  • “I understand that you’re upset that Mike knocked down your blocks. Instead of hitting, how could you let him know this?”
  • “You must be pretty upset to talk about your brother like that. Do you want to tell me about it?”
  • “I see you’re mad that your sister got your shirt dirty – let’s see how she can help fix this.”
Remember that all feelings are okay – just not all actions!

While our intentions may be good... expecting a child to show warm, fuzzy feelings when they’re not feeling that way can lead to resentment and further retaliations.

Validating your child’s feelings lets them know they are understood, accepted, and unconditionally loved. This can have a calming effect, and make them more ready to listen. Exploring alternative actions gives them a tool they can use for the next time. (More on this in our next posting!)

To get a handle on this, and other family challenges, join one of our popular Parenting Courses. Learn strategies and tools for all of those parenting moments. Your money back if it doesn’t change your life!

All the best,
Beverley & Doone

P.S. Watch for Principle #2 in our next posting – just in time to get you prepped for March Break!