Summer time is traditionally a time of backyard barbeques, swimming at the public pool, eating watermelon and . . .
beating up your pesty little brother.
Okay Okay, not exactly your idea of an ideal summer pastime? Mine either! Yet, unstructured summer play times and family vacations often mean more brothers and sisters are stuck playing together. More togetherness often means more chances for conflict.
This is how it works in many homes:
Sister says something rude to brother.
Brother gets infuriated then smacks sister.
Sister cries and brother gets in trouble.
That’s not fair!
While hitting is the more serious offense, the fact is that sister also did something. By not giving her a consequence, you are unwittingly reinforcing her behavior, which will continue to instigate his behavior. Since an adult is not always around to know the details of what exactly happened, I suggest always giving a consequence to both combatants, I mean, children. ;)
This does several things:
It stops siblings from endlessly picking on each other in order to get the more impulsive child in trouble.
- It builds teamwork thinking in the children. Since they know they will both get in trouble, they are less likely to “tattletale” on each other for every little thing.
- It is fair. It takes two to tango and also to fight. Innocent victims are rare in this scenario.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, but by and large, it works and helps to lower the amount of sibling fighting that goes on.
Working it out
In order to help kids work through or avoid conflict, it’s important to teach them how to handle it themselves. The tendency to step in and separate the combatants just to return to peace is overwhelming, but allowing them to work through their conflicts together can yield big rewards in the long run. Follow these steps to restore peace:
Stop the physical fighting or the yelling and request that both parties use a calm voice.
- Give each sibling a chance to tell their side of the story without interruptions from the other.
- Ask clarifying questions until you feel that all the important details about the disagreement are on the table.
- Help them to summarize their concerns and get agreement that you understand everything.
- Ask them to both come up with solutions that address both concerns as well as your concern about the fighting.
- If they need help coming up with solutions that address both concerns, then give them some ideas.
This process of collaborative problem solving is not easy for kids to do at first. It does take practice, but it is a skill that will serve them the rest of their lives.
Reduce Stress Heart intelligence
"The HeartMath Solution" by Doc Childre and Howard Martin details how stress affects our bodies, minds and emotions and what we can do about it. They claim that it is not life situations that cause stress but our perception of them. Also that stress isn't about just major problems, but a steady accumulation of the little things that we get frustrated, irritated and worried about.
This stressed out state which they call incoherence takes its toll on us, but there is hope. They detail several techniques that you can use to reduce stress by accessing the intelligence in your heart to bring yourself into what they call coherence.
Here are the steps of a technique called Freeze Frame:
Recognize the stressful feeling and Freeze-Frame it. Take a time out.
- Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the negative thoughts and feelings and to the area around your heart. Pretend you are breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area.
- Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you have had in life and try to re-experience it.
- Now, using your intuition, common sense, and sincerity, ask your heart, What would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that would minimize future stress?
- Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. (It's an effective way to put your reactive mind and emotions in check and an in-house source of commonsense solutions!)
I have found this to be a highly effective technique.
Give it a try when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out and let me know how it works for you.
Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching
Are you struggling with Chaos at Home?
Now that Summer is upon us, it might be a great time to work on some of those challenges that you put off during the stresses of the school year. Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching provides you with the support you need to make lasting changes. Check out the details here. http://www.counselingformoms.com/parentcoaching.htm
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Calm the Chaos Newsletter
This Newsletter is copyright (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, all rights reserved. You may freely reprint in any newsletter, website, or print journal. Please send me a copy and include the following attribution:
"Calm the Chaos Newsletter article (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, MA.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Helping families
Struggling with Chaos at home to have happy, successful children. Sign up for the newsletter at http://www.counselingformoms.com and receive a copy of the free report, ‘Conquering Bad Behavior Without Stress.’"
I send out an extra email now and then detailing programs and offers.
Karen DeBolt, MA. Parent Coach and Family Therapist
Struggling with Chaos at home and want happy successful children? Download our free report, “How to conquer bad behavior without stress.” http://www.counselingformoms.com/docs/specificpraise.pdf
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