Archive for the ‘let them work it out’ category

Kids fighting: Let them work it out

June 11, 2012
Sibling rivalry is a time honored tradition and challenge for parents. When kids fight they are learning so much. Letting kids fight and sibling rivarly roar is the best way to let kids learn how to get along. Sibling rivalry is right with lessons. My kids fighting taught them valuable lessons.

Sometimes my kids needed a boxing ring to work out the challenges.

Kids fighting is a common complaints from parents. Here’s a story from a reader who solved it by letting her two kids work it out. Their ages are irrelevant. What matters is Mom’s calm encouraging approach.”Cora needed new clothes, and Joe didn’t want to go shopping. We had a day off (from school), so it was convenient. We went to to three shops, and Joe ate the chocolate bars I had in my bag, drank the water and was super-patient.

“Afterwards, Cora wanted to go to the shoe shop, but Joe was fed up. I told her that she would have to convince him to go herself. They had a private tete-a-tete, and the next minute they both started walking towards the shoe shop.

“I asked them how that happened, and they told me that they agreed that he could look in the toy shop as long as he liked after we went to the shoe shop.

“We went home happy with three bags of clothes, sensible shoes and no fights. What more could a parent ask? They have learned to see the other guy’s point of view and to work on the individual they need to change. They both seem to have twigged (British slang for understand) that I never wanted to be the big boss, I just go along and advise and drive the car and don’t want to be the referee all the time.

“When we got home it turned out that Cora also said to Joe ‘If you go to the shoe shop, I’ll tell you where the switch is on the router.’ This has irked Joe for ages.”

What worked: Mom encouraged, expected and empowered them to work it out. Mom respected Joe’s tolerance. Brother and sister will be closer and get along better now and in the future. Having a sibling includes rivalry and learning to work it out. By solving their problems, they become resilient, creative, confident, capable and develop “people skills.”

Email me your challenging situations — that you’ve solved or would like an a Raising Able /Adlerian suggestion for. I love to solve parenting challenges! Tell me what is driving you crazy — susan [at] susantordella [dot] net.

Power-sharing can defuse conflict in families

March 26, 2012
tweens, teens, school age, toddlers and preschoolers all need the experience of feeling powerful. Parents must learn to share power through "family meetings" "encouragement' and "mutual respect" as well as natural and  logical consequences. Power balance is important. Use chores for positive power. Avoid power struggles. there are no winners or losers, only competetitors.

Giving kids a little leeway can go a long way to make peace at home. Instead of scolding my kids for being on top of our van, I got out the camera. Children develop personal power when they can take risks, have fun and occasionally break the rules in life.

Here are some excerpts from a letter from a mother in Ireland who read my book and implemented many of the practices and an attitude of mutual respect. I added emphasis.

“Eating was a particular problem for my daughter. She is 9 years old and tiny. I, too, was a small child. Some days she did not eat enough and was hungry and angry. This was a huge worry because she is really into fashion and her paternal grandmother is depressed.

“I realize now that I was bullying my daughter and not eating my food was the only way she had of showing me her power. …She is enjoying her food without need for any further intervention. …

“I asked her early on after reading your book “Which is better, to be loved, or to be loved and needed?”

“She answered that it is better to be loved and needed. She enjoys the chores and we have bonded in a new way while cleaning the bathroom. I do the toilet and she does the bath and sink. I admire her work and she enjoys working with me.

“If I had been thinking about it until doomsday, it would never have occurred to me that this is how my daughter wanted to spend time with me. Your book gave me the idea of helping and my husband has used this stunt since then to get the kids working. They have clean bath and sink on their chore list from the meeting and when we work with them it makes it into a prestige job.

“I don’t know why it works, but it does. Prestige jobs and doing something unique to you are some of the best points in your book, I think.”

This letter blew me away because it connects the lack of personal power — a core issue around anorexia, and how to create personal power through chores. We are such flock animals, that we seek prestige any way possible, including by cleaning the toilet.

I hated sharing power with my kids. I wanted to do it MY WAY!  I didn’t like backing down from power struggles and feeling like I lost. I learned to quit showing up on the battlefield and occasionally let kids climb on the van with the hose. Some parents go to the opposite extreme and kids live on top of the van with the hose. This is too much power.

Find a happy medium to share power through mutual respect, trust a child to make decisions, listen to them during family meetings, do family chores together, and use encouragement.

Investing the time and attention in this will bring results. Parenting is not cheap or easy. It is worth the effort because it’s good for everyone.

Sibling rivalry? Let it rip.

November 7, 2011
Sibling rivalry is a fact of life. Doing chores together is one way to learn to get along. Not interfering in their arguments is another way to deal with sibling rivalry. you can teach siblings to get along with going crazy. Sibling rivalry is part of family life that teaches children about relationships and life, and themselves.

There are a lot of relationships in this group. My parents are in the middle, surrounded by their eight surviving children and their spouses and children. More children equals more rivalry. I'm in the maroon dress seated, second from the left.

If you have more than one child, sibling rivalry is usually one of your biggest challenges, and the best way for kids to learn to get along with people in the world. Disagreements, jealousy and wrongs are committed among people all the time. The question is, how to resolve them?

An adult friend who is an only child said she hated fighting with her friends “because they always had the option of going home. If you have siblings, they can’t go anywhere. You have to work it out eventually,” she said.

Your kids’ relationship will provide the foundation for the most difficult and rewarding relationships of their lives. Sound familiar? Getting along with siblings is preparation for marriage and work.

The more parents take sides and punish for sibling rivalry, the worse it will become because the kids will use it as a way to manipulate parents. They’re still learning from that, too!

Here are some techniques to encourage them to get along.

1. Put them all in the same boat. Fighting over a toy? Remove the toy. Then encourage them:  “You can have it back when you’re ready to figure out how to take turns/share.”
2. Get them to sit down in two chairs, knees touching, looking at each other. Ask questions. “What’s the problem? Who has an idea on how to solve it?”
3. Take all fights outside or to basement –because audiences make fighting better. Cold weather makes short fights.
4. Make sure your kids are getting sufficient attention from you at neutral times so they’re not using sibling rivalry to get negative attention.
5. Don’t feel sorry for younger and weaker siblings. They have excellent defense and offense tactics. They can also learn the valuable lesson that annoying bigger and older people can result in pain.
6. Use a confident voice and body language when saying, “You  can do it. I know you can work it out.” Then walk away.
7. Put the conflict on the family meeting agenda. This “parks it” for a while and allows time to come up with reasonable solutions. Get locks for doors, put toys out of reach, take responsibility for putting your special stuff away. Etc.  free tip sheet on family meetings at
8. Some problems never go away until childhood goes away. This is life & parenthood. They will grow up and leave home. When you allow them to work it out, they grow closer.

This could happen anywhere

June 20, 2011
when there are few resources, it can cause sibling rivalry. Brothers and sisters can learn so much from being allowed to interact with each other and work out their own problems. Raising children and discipline is all about allowing children to learn how to get along, that fighting hurts, that sibling rivalry is part of life. Sibling rivalry might drive parents nuts, so WE parents must change our behavior and manage our emotions so our children have the opportunities to discover how to make good decisions in life.
Scarce resources make for interesting family times.

Enrique, 10, says, “Dad, can I have some ice cream?

Dad says, “There’s a little left. You can have it.”

Maria, 8, pipes up, “I want some.”

Enrique agrees to share with Maria. Dad is flabbergasted because Enrique has Asperger Syndrome and sharing is rare. Elated, dad goes back to reading his book.

Maria takes more than her fair share and eats it. Enrique discovers a piddling amount left and crows about the injustice for 15 minutes.

Dad tolerates Enrique’s complaints. He doesn’t rush out to the store. When Mom comes home, Dad reports the incident, which re-ignites Enrique’s whining, much to Dad’s annoyance.

This could happen in any family because there are always scarce resources, sibling rivalry, people who will share, and people who will take advantage of their generosity.

Dad asked our parenting workshop, “What to do?”

1. Appreciate that Enrique and Maria have each other to learn from. Sibling offer some of life’s richest lessons.

2. Put the issue on the family meeting agenda — always posted on the fridge, ready to diffuse tense situations and provide a calm forum later. Mom and Dad can ask the kids for ideas on how to handle such a situation in the future, such as “You cut, I pick.”

Write down viable suggestions and agree on which ones to follow, even if parents do not fully support them. Give kids’ suggestions a full trial, which will nurture your child’s self-esteem, connect them to the family, give them faith in the family meeting system and confidence that they will be treated with mutual respect.

During “compliments” Dad can recognize Enrique for sharing, even though sharing doesn’t alway work out. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share again.

This is why I advocate family meetings. They are valuable forums to work out problems, connect to the family and nurture a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

3. Allowing Enrique and Maria to work it out allows them to learn how to manage emotions and behavior. Usually these lessons are painful. Welcome to life – for typical people and those with special needs.

4. Dad can report to Mom out of earshot of Enrique. This would have eliminated the nuisance of chapter two of the complaining.

5. Dad and Mom can privately agree to NOT intervene in the sibling rivalry and announce the new policy at the family meeting. They must follow through by leaving the area, putting on headphones or earmuffs, asking the kids to take it outside, putting the issue on the family meeting, and encouraging the children by saying, “I know you two can work it out.” This is having a plan. Things may get worse before they get better because the kids will test the parents’ new behavior.

YAY Dad for not running out to buy more ice cream, which may create entitlement.

What I love about this scenario is that it exemplifies family life. Having a plan ready, knowing that sibling rivalry is normal and allowing them to work it out allows parents and kids to manage their emotions and behavior.