Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

MASFIC – Mothers Against Siblings Fighting In Cars

“What can I do to get my kids to stop fighting in the car? I know my yelling is wrong and they don’t listen anyway, but I have no idea what else to do. HELP!”

- Frazzled mother of two, ages 3 and 5.

All Behaviour Serves a Purpose

Usually sibling fighting serves to get attention (albeit negative) from parents. Kids don’t mind negative attention if it is all they can get. It is like the old adage: bad press is better than no press.

Do other parents complain to you of their fighting when they are in their care? I’ll bet the answer is no. The fighting is for OUR benefit as parents! When we are out of the picture, it loses its purpose. That means children can decide to either fight or not fight. And it takes two to have a fight. Fighting is, in fact, an act of cooperation; it’s just that it’s on the negative or useless side of life rather than the positive or useful side.

Strategies

Eliminate the Mistaken Approach

If you want the fighting to disappear you have to make fights an ineffective way of getting attention. That means you must ignore them. That is hard while you are in a car, and I am sure that is in fact why children chose the car as the ideal place to fight! They have a captive audience who cannot help but give attention in the form of ineffective verbal corrections, such as:

“Stop that”, “You’re driving me crazy” or “Enough. I have had enough!”

After all, if you weren’t busy saying those things you’d be free to talk to your spouse, listen to the radio, or any other number of things besides paying attention to the children. Let’s face it – well behaved children are ignored! We figure they’re set, so let’s do something else.

In fact, we train them – if they want us, all they have to do is act up. We need to train them in the reverse. Give attention when they are acting appropriately and ignore them when they are not. They’ll quickly learn to come about in their strategy.

Firm and Friendly

The trick is to not cave in to the demand for undue attention while staying calm and aloof (I know this is the hard part – especially with fighting). You do not need to ignore the children, just their fighting. If you only step in and get involved in their fights when they are really intense or physical, then you are unknowingly teaching your child to fight louder, longer and harder to be effective!

So, ignore the fighting. 100%. Cold turkey.

Here’s how:

Offer Choice

Mom: “It is not safe for me to drive with this noise and distraction. Can you two stop fighting or do I need to pull over?”

Tip: You only need to explain and offer choice the first time, all subsequent times if they start to fight simply pull over.

Watch the Feet Not the Mouth

Regardless of how the children answer your question (“We’ll stop fighting, honest” – kick, punch, poke) their real decision or intention is shown in their choice of behaviour not their words. Respond to what they do, not to what they say.

Follow Through – Action Not Words

If the children continue to fight then simply pull off the road, put the car in park, pull out a book and start to read. This will relax you and it demonstrates that you are not paying attention. After all – when was the last time you had time to read? Relish the opportunity! If you look upset or concerned they’ll know you are paying attention and continue.

If things get too wild, you can read from outside the car.

Mom: “I’m going to read on the grass here – let me know when you are ready for me to drive again”.

TIP: Don’t interfere with the learning by talking or rolling your eyes! This is not about you and your approval or disapproval. The lesson will be learned through the simple connection that when we fight – the car stops. Therefore, to make the car go we need to cooperate. The children see that they hold this power and mom is just following through on simple rules for social living in a respectful manner.

Your car trips should be much more joyful in no time. So, pack a book on your next trip and let me know how it goes!

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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.

Runaway Kid

If your child bolts away from you at the first moment of freedom, then you have a real safety issue.

Here’s how you can change this situation.

Purpose of the Behaviour

As always, we must start by trying to understand the child’s motivation. We ask ourselves, “Why do they do it?”

To answer this, we look at what YOU do when then THEY run. Whatever it is, stop doing it. Chances are you’re chasing after them.

Strategies

STOP participating in this misbehaviour when the situation is safe enough to allow it. You can do this by no longer agreeing to play the “chase me game”.

For example, if your child likes to bolt from you when you are helping them get dressed or when you are changing their diapers, don’t chase them. It takes two to play this game. Let them know “I am not willing to play ‘the chase game’. When you want to get dressed come let me know.” Then go about your business.

TTFT (take time for training)

Practice walking together side by side. Yes, practice walking.

In some safe place practice offering this choice:

“We need to walk together now. Can you walk beside me on your own, or do we need to hold hands?”

Tip: If you are practicing this with preverbal children, assume they’d like to walk alone if they don’t answer.

Then, let go of your toddler’s hand and see if they stay beside you. If they bolt, grab their hand and say calmly “I see you need me to hold your hand”. Walk together holding hands for a short distance and then offer the choice again. Keep repeating this choice until they see that if they would like the freedom of walking alone, they may have it when they also take responsibility for walking safely beside you.

Watch out for the most common pitfall – talking, lecturing, and reminding. If you say anything beyond presenting the choice, you are interfering in the training process by either further discouraging the child with your doubts and disappoints, or by provoking a power struggle.

Give Responsibility

Increase the number of places you let them walk independently and comment only on the success, and say nothing about the times they “make a mistake”.

Give More Responsibility

Help them learn that it is their responsibility to know their parents’ whereabouts. Children have the belief that mom and dad will follow and watch for them, so they need not pay attention.

Of course this is not a safe belief. To help them see that they must watch where YOU are, you can set up a safe learning situation by finding a safe place, safe time and a safe distance to let your toddler experience for a brief moment the effects of wandering away from you. Of course you should be vigilant and know exactly where they are at all times. By letting them experience a small controlled version of “being lost” they will see the benefit of paying attention to where you are.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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 do you make them stay at the table?

I get that question a lot. While many families no longer force their children to eat (hooray!), they might require them to stay at the table until everyone is done. Except they fail at actually getting them to stay.

Do you demand attendance at the table until the end of the meal? If you’ve ever found yourself yelling, “This is family time, damn it, and we are all going to sit here and love one another even if it kills us! Now get your butt back on your chair!” – read on!

I love the idea of family meal time, and I think it’s important to “break bread” together. But forcing children to stay at the table will not achieve that happy family time you aspire to create. Instead, you’ll get whining, moaning and other misbehavior that sabotages your efforts. We don’t want to invite power struggles.

Instead of making attendance mandatory, I suggest you excuse anyone who wants to leave, and then work to create a fabulous family dinner atmosphere that attracts your children to come back or to stay. Stop harping on about what they are eating and the crap that happened at school. Instead, “socialize.” It’s a dinner party!

Can you stop the parenting long enough to just enjoy the company of your children? That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Here are some ideas for questions that you can use to get the conversation rolling. I promise you’ll draw a crowd with these:

1. What is your all-time favorite movie and why does it have special meaning for you?
2. What is your favorite book? What in it has personal meaning for you?
3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
4. What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
5. What is something you hate to do? What do you hate about it?
6. If you could be a super hero or fictional hero/heroine, who would you be? Why?
7. Do you like your name? If not, what would pick instead?
8. How do you feel about nicknames? Know any good ones? What would you pick for yourself? Why?

These are just a few ideas to replace the old, “Do you have homework tonight?” or, “When are you going to write that thank-you card to Grandma for your birthday present?” Gee, I’d be running from you, too!

If you already have a good dinner table vibe going, share with others what makes it happen for you.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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. – See more at: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/#sthash.XCCr1HJO.dpuf

Related Posts with Thumbnails