Adding a sibling can be a rough transition for the whole family, especially for children. You may imagine how fun it will be to see your kids playing and exploring the world together, but when the new addition actually arrives it can be a tough transition!
This week I’d like to introduce to you two families with two different experiences and how they worked ahead of time to help smooth the addition of a new sibling.
Your kids are arguing – (again!) – about what game to play, who got the bigger serving of pie, and who had more time playing video games. You want to teach your kids the valuable skill of compromise, but you feel helpless and frustrated as your kids tune out your well-intended words.
What comes naturally is to tell your kids, with exasperation, to “Figure it out! Or NO ONE is getting what they want.” The problem with that? Compromise and problem-solving don’t come naturally to all kids – it is a learned skill.
Rather than lecturing or making demands when kids are arguing, we’ve found that the very best time to teach is outside of the moment. Yes – doing this takes planning. And yes – your kids might object to your efforts. But it is worth it!
They’re at it again. You can hear them in the next room and you want it to stop. Now. Your children are having a heated debate that seems to be escalating by the minute. Should you intervene or should you let them fight it out?
As parents we all long for our kids to get along and be friends, but their fighting can seem to be a constant negative and never-ending cycle. In our decades of coaching and teaching parents (and raising our own squabbling crew!), we have found a few guiding principles to help you as you steer your kids towards peace and connection at home.
Only intervene when it is obviously necessary.
The temptation for many parents, when they hear their children in conflict, is to intervene quickly and make it stop. You want quiet. You want peace. You have things to do and you don’t have time for this! However – when we intervene too soon or too often we are cheating our children out of a great opportunity to learn lifelong negotiation and peacemaking skills. These clashes when they are young help equip our kids with the necessary skills they will need to use in the future when they disagree with a co-worker or friend or are engaged in what seems like the hundredth “debate” they are having with a spouse.
WHEN, then, is it “obviously necessary”?
“He hit me!!!” “She took my marker!”
Have you ever thought – “I am just refereeing 24/7, and I certainly have better things to do with my day. This is not okay! The fighting needs to stop.”
Unfortunately, the more we have an expectation that our children shouldn’t fight, the harder it is to be prepared for the challenge of conflict.
The reality is that kids fight all the time! University of Illinois professor and family researcher Laurie Kramer, Ph.D., has found that siblings between 3 and 7 years old engage in some kind of conflict an average of 3.5 times an hour. The youngest kids (those in the 2 to 4 age group) are the most conflict-prone at 6.3 conflicts per hour–or more than one clash every 10 minutes.*
“No, YOU’RE dumb!”
“Well, you’re a loser!”
“I know you are, but what am I?”
“You’re a butthead!”
Name-calling between children is a challenge for many families. Once kids get on a roll of slinging names back and forth it can seem like an express train to a sibling meltdown. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can help your kids turn their angry words into an opportunity to connect and build even stronger relationships.
Parents of siblings… did you ever think it would be this hard?
You imagined your kiddos as best friends, being there for each other throughout life, and always having each other’s backs. And yet, here they are, yo-yo-ing from best friends to bitter enemies several times a day. Sometimes it seems like the “best friend” moments are becoming increasingly fleeting as you try to keep the next world war from launching in your living room.
Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive are in regard to sibling conflict. We’ve heard your cry and our online course specifically addresses this seemingly impossible challenge. It was developed after working with thousands of parents throughout the years. We also incorporate our own experiences raising three quarreling children (who now, as young adults, support and love each other dearly!).
In our five-session online course Sibling Conflict: From Bickering to Bonding we teach parents how to teach kids The Peace Process. The way siblings interact is a powerful training ground for future relationships and we believe we can help you navigate this tricky territory. Our goal is not to simply “stop the fighting” but to give you some tools to grow strong, healthy relationships. If kids learn The Peace Process in the safety of your home, they can take this practice with them into all future relationships!
Join us! We’re excited to partner with you as you empower your kids to grow in their relationships with each other…which will strengthen your whole family!
Does it feel like your child is “out of sorts” but you can’t understand why? Do things seem much more difficult for one of your kids than the others? It might simply be that your child struggles with sensory sensitivities: either sensory-seeking, sensory-avoidant, or a combination of the two.
Have you said any of the following?
- “Loud. It’s my son’s only volume level. It’s really draining.”
- “Dressing is always an ordeal for my daughter. No tags, and sometimes no socks, because the seams drive her crazy.”
- “Transitions are so hard. When my son is locked onto his toys, getting him pried away and out to the car is soooo difficult.”
- “My daughter’s mood swings are extreme and sometimes very sudden. The littlest things can set her off. Talk about intense! Her meltdowns wear me out.”
- “My child is easily overstimulated and anxious. Large groups of kids, crowded places or busy stores are usually a prescription for trouble.”
- “Mealtimes are insane with the noise, squirming, rocking and even falling off chairs.”
Coaching parents has been the greatest joy in my professional life! I’ve seen countless kids’ lives change for good while witnessing greater parent confidence and satisfaction. Those results are why I stopped providing therapeutic services to teens and began coaching parents.*
In my experience, the power and influence of a parent with a plan can alter even the most dire family struggles.
Ten years of working with teens labeled as EBD, ODD, ADHD, OCD, or just plain “at-risk”, brought me to a place of seeking my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and my license in Marriage and Family Therapy. I wanted to help families, not just teens, because behind hurting teens are hurting parents.
As a parent coach, primarily working with parents of teens, I’ve found commonality in the issues parents want to address – especially wanting their kids to obey. NOW!
For the past 20 years, I’ve been doing some form of helping parents and I really enjoy it. I love the unique stories and challenges, and equipping families to find new insights and practical tools. I thought I’d heard everything – but one particular coaching session surprised even me!
When coaching with intense parents Heather and Steve*, the conversation turned to Steve’s tendency to get easily angered and frequently swear when challenged by his son Zach. It’s what Steve had learned in his home growing up. As soon as Zach’s behavior began to feel out of control, Steve would dominate, intimidate, and swear until Zach complied. Now that his little boy was equal height, close to equal weight and learning the same pattern, their relationship was deteriorating rapidly.
Do you have a teen or pre-teen that is tough to motivate regarding school? Perhaps this scene seems familiar: Your daughter is consistently behind with schoolwork and does the minimal amount to keep adults off her back. When she does complete assignments they are disorganized and sloppy. You do your best to encourage her and she snaps back, “I don’t care about school! It’s stupid and useless. If you’d just stop nagging me I’d be fine!’
So you prepare yourself for battle and hope for the best. Something inside of you knows there is a better way, but you’re just not sure how to get there. You desire for your child to ultimately take responsibility for her life and pray your relationship isn’t damaged by the conflict.
There is hope! As a parent coach, working primarily with parents of teens, I’ve seen many parents find success, and I’d like to help you find it too. It helps to understand the cycle that often happens: