Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

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

School Lunches

Making school lunches seems to be an energy drain for most families. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ideas to help you make 2015 a stress-free school lunch year:

1. Delegate

Sign them up for pizza lunch and accept all “bring a friend home for lunch invitations” they can wrangle!  Not every meal has to be as healthy as the menu at Canyon Ranch Spa. Balance their need for nutrition with your need for sanity.

2. One list & one rotation

Create a list together with your children of 5 lunches that they enjoy.  Most of our stress comes from thinking “WHAT CAN I MAKE FOR LUNCH TODAY?”  It’s the need to think creatively that exhausts us.  Well, I say forget creativity! You’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest. Go for a pragmatic formula instead. Research shows most families eat the same 4 or 5 meals over again and again for dinner. Why not apply the same principle to lunch?  Once you have the lunch list, your only work is in making sure the items are on the grocery list, and packing it.

3. Pack strategically

Don’t forget to label!

Mornings are a pressure keg. Take some of the stress off by packing lunches at some other time of day – maybe the most low-key time of your day is right after kids go to bed? Or pack them while you simmer dinner on the stove. Heck, why not pack three days worth of lunches at once?

4. Let the kid’s solve the boredom problem

If your kids complain they are tired of getting wieners and beans for lunch, explain you will happily remove them from the list of 5 lunches, once replacement school lunch recipes have been discovered. Have them scout out lunch options by looking at what their friends are packing. Imitation is the highest form of flattery isn’t it?

5. Pass the torch

Eventually, you’ll want your kids doing this job for themselves. That means you should spend time teaching your children to pack their own lunch, so you can pass the torch on to them.  Kids tend to eat better when they pack their own lunches, so the earlier the better!

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

Getting Your Play Room Organized for 2015!

It’s January and we’ve probably all pledged to be more organized in 2015.  My best advice to get you off to a great start is to tackle the kids play room.   After all, it’s the mass amount of toys we trip over that makes us feel like our whole house is messy! Check out these helpful toy storage ideas and playroom ideas.

1.  DOWNSIZE

The rule of thumb is that kids should be able to clean up the entire playroom independently (yes – I know, we’ll get to that issue in a minute) in about 5 minutes.    Most playrooms simply have too much stuff.  It’s an overwhelming task for a preschooler.

It’s time to cull the toy herd and find room for the new Christmas toys.  This does not mean running around with a green garbage bag threatening to give your kids’ toys to children who DO care about their toys.  (Haven’t we all had that parental fit?) Instead, it’s a group project to help create a new kids playroom environment that is more user-friendly.

2. PITCH / DONATE / STORE/ CREATE LIBRARY

Have the kids help you decide what needs to be thrown out (i.e. dried out markers) and what needs to be donated to goodwill. Some dolls and toys may no longer be played with, but they might be sentimental – those can be kept in a keepsake box.   That leaves the rest of the toys that are still in current use.  But here is the kicker – I’m betting dollars to donuts it’s STILL more than kids can clean in 5 minutes.  So here is my idea: create your own “toy lending library” or storage space.

Populate the kids toy room with a selection of toys:

    •             2 puzzles
    •             8 books
    •             1 connector set
    •             4 costumes
    •             1 riding toy
    •             etc…

You get the basic idea.  Have the kids pick what they would like to have out this week and then place the rest away in storage. Let them know that next week they can return the 8 books and pick 8 new ones from storage.  Refresh and circulate the toys weekly. This way they will be excited to see their old toys again! Even toys that were sitting out but ignored previously will create excitement again.

3.  EVERYTHING HAS A HOME

Make the playroom organized with toy storage solutions, like shelves and bins and baskets so your children know where every toy goes to “sleep” at the end of the day.   Make sure your toy storage is kid-friendly and easy to reach.

4.  CLEAN UP EVERY DAY

If you want your child to learn to be responsible, they need to understand the basic idea of cleaning up after themselves. It begins with playroom clean up and is an essential life lesson to teach children. To do this, explain to your child that it’s their job to clean up after they play with house cleaning tips. Help them in the beginning by giving instructions:  “Can you put the ball in the basket? Can you put the doll back in her crib?” Even a 16-month old can follow these simple instructions.

5. BE CONSISTENT

Make sure you are consistent in making clean up the child’s job.  If you sometimes do the clean up, or tidy up MORE after they are done, they won’t believe it’s really their job. Consistency is a key ingredient in any learning model.  It’s easier to learn if 2+3 always adds up to 5.

6.  ROUTINES

You will also find it’s easier to teach a child about cleaning up if you make it part of the family routine so it needs to happen at a regular time in the family schedule.  If you always clean up before dinner or bedtime snack, you reinforce the schedule. Say “FIRST we clean and THEN we eat”.   If they play or goof off, ignore them until they ask for dinner or a snack and then simply remind them of the family routine: “Yes, you may have a snack, but FIRST we clean up and THEN we have snack”.   After a few nights they will put it together and start cleaning up before dinner without fights or reminders.

[CONTEST ALERT]

Don’t forget to label all those toy bins and storage containers!  Need a bit of help organizing? Get 25% off all Household Labels at www.mabelslabels.com

Win a prize pack of Household Labels! Head on over to Instagram and post a photo of the messy room you need help organizing with #HelpMeMabel and tag @MabelsLabels and you could win!

Contest is open from 9:00am January 13, 2015 to 11:59pm January 15, 2015. Good luck!

 

 

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

 

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