Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sibling Rivalry – Always at the worst time


Ever notice that when you are the most stressed to get something done the kids are also the most active to get your attention.

It’s 6:00 in the evening and you have just rushed in the door. You’re flying to get dinner on the table while the kids are sitting in the family room watching something on Television.

Then out of nowhere comes a blood curdling scream from your youngest child. The older child has poked him, is sitting too close to him, gotten the remote away from him and is changing the channels or anything else he can do to upset his younger sibling.

Why you ask? Why when you are so busy trying to get dinner prepared would these children once again start bothering each other?

Because they are bored! And when the oldest child is bored the best toy he has is his younger sibling. Whether it’s in the back seat of the car or sitting in the family room, annoying his younger sibling is a great way to pass the time.

That’s why we park their minds in front of televisions in the house or DVD players in the car. It distracts them, but it doesn’t teach them (that’s for another blog).

The dream of every parent is that the child would do more than simply get along. We dream they would love each other and take care of each other. We imagine them going through life holding hands.

Building family takes work. You have to deal with the acts of sibling rivalry and then work to create sibling love.

Next: Dealing with sibling rivalry in a way that doesn’t pit them against each other.

Sibling Rivalry – Always at the worst time 2009-10-30T00:45:23+00:00

Sibling rivalry – Why?


We just want to be one big happy family. When we had our second child we saw a new side to our first child. This was a side we couldn’t have imagined when he was our only child. I know it is called “sibling rivalry”, but why?

Imagine being married for three years and out of nowhere your husband brings home another wife. “Honey, I love you so much I thought two wives would be even better!”

That wouldn’t work for you. Expanding the family by taking the starring role away from the oldest child takes some effort on the part of the parents.

Sibling rivalry, the sense of competition between siblings is a reality. It’s also not a bad thing and it does need to be dealt with. Sibling rivalry takes the center stage of life out of the hands of the oldest or older children. Sibling rivalry is a battle for power, position or for the parent’s attention.

Having siblings does teach children to work together and how to share. Children must be taught to handle their sense of sibling rivalry or a family could end up like the Biblical character Jacob. Jacob’s sons were so jealous of Joseph that they sold him into slavery, just to get rid of him.

There is an opportunity in the tension that sharing siblings must learn to deal with. It’s great practice for marriage.

Tomorrow: When is sibling rivalry most likely to take place?

Sibling rivalry – Why? 2009-10-28T23:33:27+00:00

The ICE Plan for talking back


As previously stated, you have a challenge with you eight year old talking back.  The first step is the parental staff meeting.  A meeting of the parents or parent to think through this behavior.

First: Is this a behavior we need to deal with: Yes.

Second: What is a corrective consequence for this behavior?

In our staff meeting we decided that we would respond to talking back by having the child sit at the kitchen table and write a fifty word note of apology.

First step in the I.C.E. plan is the “I” for Instruction.

“Torrey, mom and I have noticed that you have a tendency to talk back to us when you don’t like the decisions we are making.  Last night when we said that you needed to pick up those things on the floor and then it’s time to go get you shower, you responded by …” Help the child understand what talking back is.

From now on we’re going to help you not talk back.  If you start talking back one of us is going to give you a warning by holding up a finger.  If you stop, awesome!  If you don’t there will be a consequence.

Second step is the “C” for consequence…announcing the consequence.  “If you continue to talk back, even after the warning, you will end up sitting at the kitchen table writing a fifty word note of apology.”

Count on it.  Your child is awesome.  They will continue to talk back.  My daughter spends a couple hours sitting at the kitchen table one night with paper and pencil in front of her.  I sat at the table with a newspaper to make sure she didn’t leave the room.

Finally, out of boredom, she chose to write the note.  The note can be done in five minutes or in two hours.  We are placing that decision to accept responsibility for their behavior on their shoulders.

Eventually the minutes spent choosing to write the note got to be less and less… as did the talking back.

That’s the “E” in I.C.E.  Letting them exercise their options and decision-making skills.  “If I talk back I am choosing to write.  It’s all about impulse control.

Oh, yes, there was the night my mouth got me to a point where I knew I had to sit and write a fifty word note of apology to her.  Very humbling!

The ICE Plan for talking back 2009-10-28T23:37:00+00:00

Help, My Child is Talking Back


Of course young children talk back. It’s unfortunate when older children still talk back to their mom, but it’s to be initially expected from younger children to talk back. Children of all ages talk back when they don’t get their way and haven’t yet been taught that there is a consequence for talking back.

No, the parent’s justification can not be “kids will be kids” or “that’s just the way today’s children are.” The reality is that kids will become what they are trained to become.

It’s one of the training responsibilities of parents to help children break the habit of talking back.

This habit will stop when it is consistently coupled with an unpleasant consequence.  If, for instance, every time a child talks back, the parent has the child sit at the kitchen table and write a fifty word note of apology to the parent. Sound unrealistic?

Let’s spend the next couple of days looking at the subject.

Help, My Child is Talking Back 2009-10-23T07:53:42+00:00

Do your homework for Slumber parties


The simple fact that your child has been invited to a slumber party has no barring what-so-ever on whether your child will go to that slumber party.

Do your homework. Who are the parents? Do you know them? You wouldn’t let a stranger use your car over night so why entrust your greatest treasure to a stranger?

What is the reason for the slumber party? What do they plan to do? Who will be there? Is it going to be all one gender?

Make no assumptions. Ask your questions before saying yes so you don’t kick yourself later on.

A growing number of parents think it’s cute to have a slumber party for everyone in their child’s first or second grade. Yes, everyone … boys and girls.

It just takes one precocious child to pressure everyone into showing body parts.

Ask all your questions before hand so you can say to yourself, “I’m glad I did,” rather than “I wish I had.”

Do your homework for Slumber parties 2009-10-21T22:32:14+00:00

Make a memory, have some fun!


Fun … Remember fun? … That part of a family that everyone remembers.  Family fun is very important and it can’t be rented or bought.  It doesn’t have to be a ski trip,  a cruise, or any other expensive vacation.  It’s a time when all the pressure is off and the family does something together that makes everyone laugh.

Family fun is the most hilarious and most remembered when it’s at Dad’s expense … When everyone is laughing at something that dad did.

As we head into this holiday season there are many incredible opportunities to turn the tv off and celebrate family.  It could be the annual family pumpkin carving contest.

For thirty- five years I have had the privilege of working at Sheridan House Family Ministries. Among other things, we have five children’s homes. This is the time of year we have our pumpkin carving contest. One adult and one child working on a pumpkin.

I never win but I always make a big deal about my pumpkin being overlooked and that it should be obvious to any intelligent person that mine is best. The only thing I seem to win is to get the most pumpkin gook thrown on me by the children.

Each year there are sullen teenagers that say they don’t want to do it … But they do. The prize is to watch them burst out laughing and to become children again.

I know it works because I did this with my own children. Fun is what they remember and the stories they want to talk about. “Remember when Dad …!”

It’s time for fun but you have to schedule it in.

Make a memory, have some fun! 2009-10-20T22:45:11+00:00

Sleepovers & Slumber parties


Lisa, one of our readers, recently asked about slumber parties.  There are positive reasons to allow your child to participate in a sleepover but there is also a need for some homework before you say yes.

Sleepovers or slumber parties offer two opportunities.  One significant opportunity is to emancipate your child from moms apron strings (if that’s even still a term, since nobody wears an apron anymore).  Your oldest child might find it difficult to spend the night away from you, while your youngest won’t even say goodbye as they run in the door of the sleep-over house.  Sleeping away from home is good practice for independence.

Sleepovers also offer mom and dad some alone time. There were seasons when my wife and I needed alone time but couldn’t afford to go anywhere.  The nights our children were involved in sleepovers were often great date nights for us.  We either planned a date night when our children were invited to sleepovers or we called a close friend and asked them to let our kids sleep over.

But as we discussed in our earlier posts, it’s important the parents invest the time and do the necessary homework before saying yes.

Tomorrow: What’s the homework before your child does a sleepover.

Sleepovers & Slumber parties 2009-10-20T00:56:03+00:00

Parties offer a great training opportunity for your teen


Once the phone call has been made to the chaperoning parent of the party and the questions have been asked, it’s time to elevate your teen to the role of “parent-for-a-night”.

“Ashley,” the parent can begin, “I won’t be going to this party so you have to represent me by taking care of Ashley.”

The baffled teen will say, “What are you talking about, Dad?”

“Since I’m not there with you at this party, Honey, you have to be my substitute and decide if and when it is time to leave the party.

Explaining that you will be there at 10:30 to pick them up, but if at any time any of the following things on the list happens call and you will come early to get them.

  • If the parents chaperoning the party disappear, call me.

  • If you feel uncomfortable, call me.

  • If there are any drugs or alcohol (even with just one other kid, because that means the parents aren’t really chaperoning), call me.

  • Any kids making out, call me.

**Add your own things to this list.

“Honey, you are representing me tonight. I’m counting on you to treat yourself like you are worth making that call if something on our list happens. To help you I will be showing up a little early to pick you up and I will come inside the house … all the way in. If anything on the list is taking place and you didn’t call me, it will show me you aren’t ready to be my substitute. It will be thirty-days before you go anywhere. Then we’ll try again.”

This is a great opportunity to train a teen to step up to their peers and make the call. They can even blame it on their parent.

If we don’t train them how to treat themselves with respect who will? If we don’t train them how have the courage to walk out of a bad party who will?  If we don’t train them how to walk out of a bad party how will they ever walk out of a bad date?

Parties give parents the opportunity to train the child to handle peer pressure.

Parties offer a great training opportunity for your teen 2009-10-28T23:36:20+00:00

The party selection process


Once you have decided that your child is mature enough to “work” a party, develop your Party Selection List.

A Party Selection List consists of questions you need answered before the party becomes a “Yes Party”. These are questions you will want to ask the parental host and you want to ask the questions with your child present. That way your child will begin to understand what a “Yes Party” looks like before he/she asks for permission to attend.

When a child asks for permission to go to a party, ask for the phone number of the host parent.

“Mom,” the child will panic, “You’re not going to call are you!”

Parent’s response: “No, I won’t call unless you want to go to this party. It’s your choice.”

The parent’s call to the parent hosting the party goes something like this: “Hi, this is Mrs. Smith. I understand your daughter is having a party this Friday night. My son has been invited. Do you mind if I ask a few questions?”

Have your questions ready. Questions like, “Are you going to be there chaperoning all evening? There won’t be any alcohol will there? Is this a party for just this age group or are older kids attending?”

Once the questions have been answered, thank the host and tell them you look forward to meeting them when you drop your child off.

You wouldn’t let a stranger use your car Friday night, therefore, why would you be any less careful with your child?

The first step in this training opportunity is to find out if this is a “Yes Party”. Make your list of questions.

Tomorrow: Give your child their training assignment.

The party selection process 2009-10-17T08:20:57+00:00

Who decides when your teen can start going to parties?


When it comes to making a parental decision about whether your teen can go to a party or not, do you start by saying “No”?  Then cave in later because your child begs and claims he is the only kid in the entire middle school whose mom won’t let them go … Only cool kid anyway.

Do you say “yes” out of exhaustion or do you stay with your training plan. One is a Debating Parent while the other is a Training Parent.

A Debating Parent makes decisions by debate. The fact that the parent really isn’t comfortable with the party is an issue, but not the deciding factor. The winner of the debate wins the prize.

The Training Parent says “No” and sticks with it when it comes to “No Parties”.

The training parent also uses the “Yes Parties” for more than entertainment. The training parent uses the party for teaching and preparation.

If your child can’t handle a party with many peers, they certainly can’t handle a date one-on-one.  The “Yes Parties” are opportunities for much more than entertainment. They serve as avenues for training your child in the way they should handle themselves in potentially difficult situations in their future.

Tomorrow: The party selection process.

Who decides when your teen can start going to parties? 2009-10-16T09:30:38+00:00