Thursday, November 20, 2014

Separation Snapshot

The Scenario: Your two daughters ages eight and six play together nicely, but when their two cousins who are similar ages come over, it’s bedlam. Within half an hour, your youngest will be crying over being excluded by her older sister from the games or play. You constantly have to intervene to keep any semblance of peace. What can you do?

The Solution: In this case, ignoring the problem or letting the children figure it out themselves is not likely to work. Things have gone on too far and their “positions” have become so entrenched that they can’t change on their own. Nor can you act as mediator—you’ve seen how successful that’s been!

Here’s a way to handle this. The next time the cousins are scheduled to come over, have your sons draw straws or flip a coin to determine which one of them will get to play with the cousins. The other child will stay away from the cousins and get her turn next time it’s playtime with the cousins.

You’ll likely have to do this for the next four or so times the cousins are at your house before you can ask your two daughters if one of them needs to play separately from the rest. This puts the onus of figuring out how to get along on the shoulders if your daughters, where it belongs.

Excerpted from Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available in October. Posted with permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Breathing Room

Over the next several Tuesdays, I’m giving readers a sneak peak chapter-by-chapter at what’s inside my new book, Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, which is available now, with permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.

Ever notice that being trapped inside for several days because of weather or sickness can unleash the worst behavior from our children? While the family that plays together does indeed develop a deeper relationship with each other, too much togetherness can breed undesirable behaviors. Time away from other siblings can provide a much needed respite and can prevent tensions from reaching the boiling point and exploding into conflict.

Just as we parents need to ensure we spend time together as a family, so we should encourage time apart. Everyone, from Mom and Dad on down to the youngest child, needs alone time—the trick is finding the right balance to avoid both smothering (too much togetherness) and becoming antisocial (too much time alone).

It’s important to talk with our children about why time alone is good for everyone, and that it shouldn’t always be viewed as a punishment. We all feel so busy these days, overwhelmed by our lengthy and never-ending to-do lists. Busyness has become a status symbol as we’re always rushing around from one task to another, on the job twenty-four/seven. We fill our lives with constant motion and tasks to be accomplished. Even Christians fall into the trap of over-scheduling, over-doing and over-committing our time and resources. Our children are not any different, with overpacked schedules and constant motion, leaving little time for the business of being a kid.

Alone time has two components: knowing when to separate and having a place to go to be by oneself. Therefore, to accomplishing the perfect ratio of togetherness and separateness, parents should first figure out when a separation is necessary. Part of this step is training offspring to recognize their personal warning signs so that they can remove themselves from a potentially explosive situation. Second, parents need to help children find private space in the home for alone time. Coupled with privacy is assisting their children to have their own identity within the family unit, another form of separating.


Read more about both how to know when a volcano might erupt and how to create space for the essential cool-down period in Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available now on Amazon.com, CBD.com and Beacon Hill Press

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Individual Time Snapshot

The Scenario: Two of your three children seek opportunities to be alone with you, such as volunteering to come with you on errands. But the middle child doesn’t speak up for these spontaneous outings. You’re finding that you spend much less time with him as a result. What should you do?

The Solution: Try carving out a bit of daily interaction for just the two of you. Perhaps it’s after dinner when the others are doing homework, or maybe right before bed you visit with him to check in on how his day is going.

Make an effort to ask him to do something with you beyond errands, such as cook dinner or sort socks. Those little opportunities should help you to stay connected with him on a more day-to-day basis.


Excerpted from Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available in October. Posted with permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One-on-One Time

Over the next several Tuesdays, I’m giving readers a sneak peak chapter-by-chapter at what’s inside my new book, Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, which is available now, with permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.

When other parents learn we have four children, their first response is usually along the lines of “How do you juggle all those kids?” That question is generally followed by another: “How do you find time for your kids?” Both represent a misconception of how much parental time and outside activities children need. We’re firm believers that children should—and are perfectly capable of—entertaining themselves.

While we don’t give our kids too much attention on a daily basis, we also do not neglect to spend individual time with them apart from the family as a whole. In today’s ever busy, ever connected world, one-on-one time with a parent becomes even more precious to a child.

This alone time forges a stronger bond of intimacy and love between parent and child, nourishing the relationship. Many parents recognize the importance of individual time with a child. In fact, seventy percent of respondents to my informal sibling survey had regular one-on-one time with each of their children.

Time spent alone with one child also underscores that we see them as individuals, not as a collective “the kids.” We often lump our offspring all together, such as “Kids, get in the car!” It’s great to be part of a family, but sometimes, children need to know we see them as single entities apart from the group. Also, having regular individual interaction will create those precious memories for both of you. Group recollections are wonderful, but it’s the personal touch that often brings the most pleasure to us and our kids.

Plus, all kids, especially teenagers, need that bonding time with parents, a chance to slow down and ease up on the throttle of life. Parents have found that scheduled one-on-one time with their children keeps them up-to-date with what’s going on in their lives. With individual time, you can cater to each child’s personality and ability, which goes along with helping parents not play favorites.

Remember, our time with them living at home is fleeting. We have them twenty-four/seven for eighteen years, then they begin to spread their wings and fly to new adventures outside of your home. Sure, we may get them back occasionally, but we will never again have them at this age.


Read more about how to have one-on-one time with your children in Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available now on Amazon.com, CBD.com and Beacon Hill Press

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Conflict Snapshot

The Scenario: Your preteen daughter and young teenage son get into the name-calling like no one’s business. Idiot, stupid, you’ve heard them all. The name-calling generally degenerates into a fight. How can you conquer this?

The Solution: You can’t. Only the two of them can get a handle on this rivalry. One way to help them figure out how to stop fighting so much is to designate a small space in your home, such as a powder room, laundry room, or large closet, as the “conference” room. When the arguing commences, direct them to take it to the conference room for half an hour (set a timer). When the timer dings, ask them if they’ve solved the problem. Most of the time, they probably have. If not, then send them back in for another half hour.

This approach allows you to keep calm and them to discover that they can solve their own problems and will likely fight less, given they probably don’t want to spend thirty minutes in a small space with their sibling every time they argue.


Excerpted from Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace, available in October. Posted with permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City
 
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