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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

Your Weekend Superfood Prep Plan

What if time is the barrier between you and your superfoods? Maybe it isn’t that you don’t want them or don’t like them but that you don’t have the time to work them into your routine. Your schedule is stretched to the max and it just won’t allow you to eat well, though you know that you should and believe in the benefits of a better diet.

What if I told you that there is a way to have it all at your fingertips when you need it? And that “way” would take you less than an hour on a weekend? If you knew that it would help improve your health, kick start weight loss and shrink your waistline, decrease stress levels and ease your schedule…would you do it?  Read on to discover how.

Here is the superfoods list of the top 10 performers in the category of anti-aging, anti-cancer foods:

(chicken bones)

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

Beets

Fennel

Red Pepper

Broccoli

Leeks

Watermelon

Kiwi

Blueberries

It is simple to have them at the ready as the foundation for every meal you will have this week. You are about to embark on a one hour journey of readiness and healthy meal plans using only your slow cooker and your oven. Store everything in the fridge and watch them all come together into multiple meals with minute effort.

Slow cooker:

(or stovetop but you have to watch it simmer for 3-4 hours)

  1. Place chicken bones and one onion halved (skin and all) into a slow cooker, cover with water, set on high. Walk away. 8 hours later, divide into 2-3 cup portions and place into fridge or freezer.

Oven:

Turn oven on to 400 F and pull out two large cookie sheets:

  1. Rinse sweet potatoes and beets under cold water, poke with a fork and place them whole into the oven on the bottom shelf for 45-60 minutes. (rinse and reserve greens)
  2. Chop two onions, spread onto cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil. Place into oven on top rack for 30 minutes, stir once. Store empty into containers. (do not wash cookie sheet, reuse for bread croutons)
  3. Cut fennel in half, remove core and discard fronds. Slice bulb into strips and lay onto second cookie sheet.
  4. Chop or rip 3-4 slices of day old whole grain bread into crouton sized chunks, sprinkle with dried herbs and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Empty onto onion cookie sheet and place back into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature before storing. Use for salads or soups.

Fridge:

Wash and chop and store in the fridge:

  1. Red peppers, broccoli and leeks. Store each in separate baggies to use as veggies and dip or within meals as below.
  2. Carve watermelon into cubes to use as a fruit snack or in smoothies.
  3. Peel and slice kiwi as above.
  4. Rinse and store blueberries likewise.

Now. What to do with all this prepped super food?

Chicken broth:

  • Sauce: simmer to evaporate into a jus for grilled fish or chicken. Stir in 1 clove of garlic and 1 tsp fresh herb as desired
  • Soup: 4 cups broth + 1 cooked sweet potato +1/4 cup cooked onion +1 tsp curry powder or 4 cups broth + 2 cups chopped broccoli + ¼ cup cooked onion + ½ cup cream
  • Pasta Sauce= ½ cup broth + chopped cooked fennel + can white beans + ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Side dishes:

  • Salad=Cooked fennel + sliced leeks + red pepper + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Mashed sweet potatoes = 2 peeled sweet potatoes + 1 tsp butter + salt and pepper
  • Pan fried beets with beet greens = peel and chop 3 beets, warm in a skillet with 2 tsp butter + chopped leeks + chopped beet greens.
  • Vegetarian= Leeks + oil + canned lentils pan fried

Healthy snacks:

  • Broccoli and Red Peppers with hummus
  • Fruit salad of kiwi, watermelon and blueberries + vanilla yogurt + cinnamon
  • Smoothie blend above ingredients
  • Freeze fruit on a cookie sheet to preserve for future smoothies

 

You want to be ready for anything that the week throws at you! Having all of these items prepped and in the fridge makes those decisions that much easier.  Do you do something similar? What tips can you share to get healthy foods into your diet easily and quickly?

 

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

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