Tips for Dealing with Siblings Fighting

 

Conflict between siblings is inevitable.  In fact, all of life is full of dealings with others who have different priorities, styles, values and methods. So really, conflict is a natural part of life.  Conflict is something to learn to manage well rather than something to feel badly about or avoid.

Don’t measure your parenting competency by how much your children fight, but rather by how you respond to their fighting.  The first step always in my parenting approach is to help parents understand the dynamics that are sustaining a behavior.   Here are some facts about siblings:

1) Fighting is Cooperative.  It takes two to fight.  Both play a role in the conflict.  Both have the ability to choose behaviors that will either escalate or de-escalate conflict.  If they choose escalation, it’s because they agreed to go that direction.  (See? And just when you thought they didn’t agree on anything!)

2) Behavior is Goal-Oriented.  Behavior is movement away from a perceived position of inferiority to a position of security or “felt plus.”  The usefulness of fighting is usually found in the parent’s response:

  • Fighting results in parental attention.  Albeit negative, negative attention is still better than no attention at all.  Let’s face it, children who behave well get ignored and those who act up get parents engaged.  It’s a no-brainer, really.
  • One child acts in the role of the “victim” and finds a benefit in acting weak and incapable, so that they learn by being helpless, a parent will step in and fight their battles and punish their siblings–making them feel they are favored over their sibling.
  • One child acts in the role of the “aggressor” and may already feel they are treated unfairly in the family.  They arrange life to prove their belief that they are treated unfairly.  Two kids kerfuffle and yet they are the only one to be sent to their room?  ”SO UNFAIR!  SEE, I TOLD YOU…. YOU HATE ME AND LOVE HER!”

Solutions:

1) Ignore – When your siblings are fighting, don’t referee.  No matter how “fair and objective” you think you are, someone is going to think you are taking sides.  Trust me, you can’t win this one.  Instead, honor that they are the caretakers of their own relationship with each other and leave them to deal with one another. “I don’t enjoy being with you two when you are choosing not to get along.  Call me when you feel like getting along.” Then LEAVE….  (Notice in the language I am explaining to them that it’s their CHOICE to get along or not? That is not conscious to them so it’s good to spell it out.)

2) Put Them in the Same Boat - Just like the expression goes: imagine your two siblings in a canoe both trying to paddle to different shores. Eventually, left on their own with the reality of the situation, they will discover that if they cooperate they can paddle to both shores, and without cooperation, they can get nowhere!  If you feel ignoring the fighting is not an option, put them in the same boat such that, whatever consequence befalls one, befalls the other. For example:

“Seems the computer is causing conflict.  I’m going to turn it off until you two have a plan worked out for sharing it cooperatively.”

or

“It seems you two are having a hard time playing together without hurting each other–you both need to take five minutes in our rooms to chill out.  Let see if you can play safely again after that.”

3) Family Meeting – If one child always acquiesces to another, and it seems unfair to you, don’t get sucked into fighting for one child’s rights.  Instead, put the issue you feel is unfair on the family meeting agenda and discuss it outside the time of conflict.

You’ll be very surprised how cooperative your children become when you step out of your traditional role!

I know it’s hard to believe this will work, so here is a testimonial:

I have to say Alyson’s advice to do with siblings and fostering sibling harmony have been some of the best tools we have put into practice in our home. And funny enough at first it felt the most un-intuitive to NOT micromanage how our kids were getting along! Our kids are now 5 and 3 and yes of course, they have the odd squabble, but we do our best to stay out. And they have an amazing ability to reconcile, compromise, share and most of all, are empathetic to each other, all on their own. We see this positive behaviour reflected in how they treat their friends too. It’s incredibly rewarding. Thanks Alyson, for all your encouragement along the way and for your very sage advice. We are expecting the arrival of our third child so I am off to re-read the sibling chapters for a refresher!”  - Mya Kraft  ( Alyson’s Parenting Bootcamp alumni from Winnipeg)

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

How to save on food and eat healthy, too!

“It’s so expensive to eat healthy!!” is the mom’s lament.  But I’m here to tell you not to believe it!

Yes, it’s true that the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are variable, seasonal and can take a good chunk of your money. But, did you know that there are perfectly nutritious, dirt cheap healthy food items on store shelves that you ought to be tossing into your cart?

Frozen foods
Frozen spinach – The frozen stuff represents about 3-4 whole bags of fresh spinach cooked down and ready to eat.  And it costs pennies per serving.

Frozen Brussels sprouts – The frozen sprouts are normally trimmed and ready to serve so there is no waste.  When you buy the fresh ones, you do lose a few leaves and ounces from each batch.

Frozen Organic Edamame – On a price per pound basis, a little goes a long way and they cost much less than even the cheapest cut of beef.

Canned goods
Canned peaches – Most canned peaches come from California at the peak of the season and retain their nutrients as well as texture.  Each can holds about 3 peaches which is less than a buck a peach.  Even in peak season, fresh, local peaches can cost more than that. These peaches are available in juice rather than sugar water and are great in smoothies, on pancakes or ice cream.

Canned tomatoes – This convenience is heaven sent. All the prep that goes in to peeling and poaching tomatoes can’t be quantified. The buck or so per can contributes one of the best sources of lycopene and vitamin A.

Dry Goods

Brown rice (even instant) – It contains more nutrients than white rice. For pennies per plate you can have the foundation of a variety of nourishing meals.

Red Lentils – These legumes can be stirred into any soup, pasta or sauce and they virtually disappear while adding phytonutrients and critical fibre.

Cost per nutrient fresh veg

Onions – Cheaper by the dozen and powerhouses of trace minerals.

 

Bagged Carrots – Not the baby ones! The whole carrot has much more to offer and is a fraction of the cost.

 

Cabbage – Ounce for ounce cheaper than broccoli and more versatile.  Shred into soup, pasta or make cole slaw.

 

There are hundreds of ways to cut corners on the household budget; your health need not be one of them.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Parenting Teens & Tweens: Tips & Tricks

 

Last week I was picking up my daughters from dance class, and was greeted by some stressed out mothers who had recently been experiencing a bit of “tween girl hormonal rage”. Considering my girls are ages 9, 12 and 13, they figured I might have some experiences and advice to share. While I think I’ve gotten off pretty easily in the hormonal attitude department, I do have a few teen girl advice tricks up my sleeve that are worth sharing:

1) Make sure they get sleep. Big kids may resent little kid bedtimes, but they need them. Kiddo bedtime at my house is 8:30pm, and that applies to everyone from toddler to teen. I don’t like kid meltdowns at any age and sleep is a good way to prevent them.

2) Don’t stoop to their level. Take a deep breath and stop yourself from getting into a screaming match and door slamming competition with your moody teens and tweens. Keep your cool and never let them see you sweat. You will only escalate the situation by getting sucked into it.

3) Don’t take their crap. Just because they have raging hormones and may lack some self-control, it doesn’t mean you have to take their verbal abuse. Expect to be spoken to with respect. Mouthy kids should be sent to their rooms or somewhere quiet to cool off.

4) Talk to them. Once they’ve chilled out a bit, you can have a productive chat and explain why the way they acted is not acceptable in the family. Chances are they feel bad for how they behaved even if they are stubborn in admitting it.

5) Keep talking to them. Was there a trigger? There might be some bigger issues going on. Did they get in a fight with a friend at school? Are they worried about a math test? Provide many opportunities throughout the day for open conversations. You never know what little tidbits might get leaked!

The most important thing I tell myself is to NEVER TAKE ANYTHING THEY SAY PERSONALLY! Remember your own experience – that moment in your early twenties you realized your parents are HUMAN and have these things called FEELINGS and they actually did so much for you? Yeah, it’ll happen. You just have a decade of exercising extreme patience ahead of you before it does.

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

 

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