Archive for the ‘Only children’ category

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 www.raisingable.com
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.

“Pretty smart — for an adult.”

November 11, 2010

I LOVE the feedback the young people deliver to me — through the parents, who are being coached on the Raising Able Family Management System.

Example one: “Freddie” is 14, a freshman in high school, and has ADD. His mother often nags, chastizes, bosses around, reminds, praises, punishes and rewards him for various behaviors. She has trouble keeping track of all of the agreements and punitive measures.

When Mom wanted Freddoe to keep food scraps to a minimum in his bedroom, she got him to comply by taking away his X-box headgear. This is NOT related, respectful and reasonable. We are working on a plan for the two of them to empower him to clean up his area to prevent roaches and mice by using encouragement, expectation and teamwork. 

Freddie likes to stay up late playing video games, and his mother could not figure out how to persuade him to get more sleep. Nagging and threatening did not work.

In desperation, she followed my suggestion, which was this: “Freddie is old enough to start making decisions for himself. Let him experience the natural consequences of staying up late and feeling like mashed mud the next morning.”

“It only took him two months,” said Freddie’s mother. “I told him who suggested it, and he said, ‘She’s pretty smart — for an adult.'”

I think Freddie is “pretty smart” for a teen.

Example two:  The mother of “Emily” came to my six-week class to learn to set limits for her 7-year-old mini-tyrant. Mom started making small changes and implementing plans for chronic situations, like the bedtime routine.

When Emily resists and challenges — as is normal with a new system — her mother says, “I learned about this in my class on the Raising Able Family Management Plan.”

Emily said to her mother, “Tell her ‘That’s enough of that plan.‘”

In the long run, the Emilies and Freddies of the world, and their families, are better off with a consistent plan.

Both of Emily and Freddie are only children — which adds to the challenge. Every time their parents master one stage of development, the child has matured and moved on to something new, and the parents never get to use the knowledge again. The dynamic of two adults to one child is challenging because the child must navigate in an adult world; and three is a crowd. There are many successful “only” children.  It is just a different scenario than having two or more children.

I enjoy the youngsters’ feedback because it means the parents are managing their emotions and expectations, and using encouragement and empowerment to get the children to do what they want — the signature of a good manager.