Posts Tagged ‘siblings’


(Parenting) Alternate Form of Affection

Brothers and sisters can sometimes be overzealous in their demonstration of affection toward their siblings. It can provide the parent with a difficult dilemma when they watch their child protest their sibling’s well-intended hug or the playful tackle. We know that it does no good to tell the recipient to just deal and it is important for the kids to learn to look for and respect the other child’s boundaries. However, when there is a positive attempt towards affection from one of the siblings, it can also be damaging to shut the giver down. Relationships grow through giving and receiving and interacting and that must be encouraged.

Alternative solutions are sometimes more obvious than others, but when you witness one of these interactions between your kids, do your best to rechannel the affection. Suggest an activity that they can participate in together, give them a common cause, or simply suggest another way that physical affection might be demonstrated. If the recipient is old enough, they could also be a part of the conversation.

Another important key in these tricky parenting situations is to keep your parenting positive. You correcting them with frustration or irritation in your voice or by using punishment will only succeed in growing resentment between the kids. Not only will their attempt at affection or interaction have been rejected by the desired recipient (their sibling), but they will have been punished by you for even attempting it. Affirm them for their desire to interact with their sibling and help them to learn how to interact in ways that they will both enjoy.

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(Parenting) Teaching Moments

During one of my college Psychology courses, one of my professors had the class do a simple exercise. She told us to not think about a blue elephant for one minute. I failed miserably. In my genuine attempt to not think about this hideous blue elephant, I must have thought about it 10 times. My focus was on eliminating the behavior. The students who had a much higher success rate, used the replacement strategy and focused on what they could do. They thought about a pink elephant or a green elephant with yellow polka dots.

There have been many times since that day where I have referenced and applied this strategy in my life.

img_45242If you have more than one child, you’ve had moments where you see the younger child act out in a way that they learned from their older sibling. However, when that action it is directed at them, the older sibling is appalled. We try to relate the concept back to their own life and actions, but the words usually don’t appear to make a significant impact.

When we give behavior examples like this to our older children, they typically focus on what the child is supposed to not do. Don’t hit. Don’t grab. Don’t yell. Simply encouraging the child to eliminate a behavior does not usually present a call to action, thus increasing the probability that they will revert back to the action that they already know how to do.

The next time you watch one of these exchanges happen between your children, try a new strategy. After addressing the younger child’s behavior, turn to the older child and present them with a call to action. You can do this by describing how the younger child at least partially learned this behavior by watching others and that we need to work together to teach the younger child a positive way of acting and relating. This empowers them with a way to act when they are frustrated with their siblings as well as teaches them the significance of their own actions. Pass the baton and turn a teaching moment into a teaching moment.