All posts tagged appreciations

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could choose between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, my choice would be the later. One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.

appreciate

1. Appreciations: Just like suggesting to someone who has a head ache that they drink water, before they run to the doctor for an MRI, using appreciations as a way to combat sibling squabbles is often overlooked because of it’s simplicity. But as a mom who raised 5 kids in a blended family dynamic, this was the key to my kids not only enjoying life together under one roof, but the reason the 5 of them are still as thick as thieves as young adults.

2. Adler’s Golden Rule: “ I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness, which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.” Mother of 4 children, ages 7 – 16.

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

3. No Blood – No Break – No Foul: “I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.” Mother of 3 children, under the age of 5

4. Use Reality as your Guide: “I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.” Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19

5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing a story from a 10, 13 or 16 year old about how awesome they think their sibling is, or a time when their sibling came to their rescue, can go along way in helping shift your child’s perspective towards their pesky sibling.

8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging and that your expectations are in line with reality.

9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. If you model for your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, they have a much better chance of establishing a healthy one with their siblings. Trying to force kids to get along usually back fires and causes more fractures not less.

10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

jens kids

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Let’s All Get Along with Appreciations

appreciateA Podcast with Vicki Hoefle

In this conversation with Vicki Hoefle, we talk about appreciations.

Parents often ask, “How do I get my kids to be nice to each other?” or “How do I get my kids to stop fighting?”

The truth is whatever you are currently doing, probably stops the action and creates some sort of compliance – momentarily. Really parents want more than kids who just get along. Parents want kids who treat each other with respect, compassion, empathy and understanding.

Listen below and learn how to let your kids know how truly special they are to you.

Appreciations and Contributions

family meetingsMany families put off or hesitate coordinating family meetings or following through with contributions because they get “stuck” on logistics:

How do we do it? What does it look like? What if I do it wrong?

The answer is simply:

  1. Keep it simple,
  2. Start small (one task at a time)
  3. Be consistent.

Whether you’re stuck on the logistics or you could use some fresh ideas, take this inspiration from REAL families on our Facebook page and use them to create a system that works for you!

Note: If you’ve fallen off, you’ll notice that sometimes a reboot to the process can get your family back into the swing in no time. Consider scaling everything back for summer- just don’t drop it altogether. Think of the confidence your child will have dancing off to school after a summer of being invited to participate!

Thank you to the families who shared ideas and if you have a system- show it off so we can all stay inspired. You never know who might find your simple genius their game changer. Enjoy! Be sure to visit our Facebook wall for ideas and more motivators.

Click here to see the REAL FAMILY Systems!

10 Tips for Kids to Enjoy Each Other

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could pick between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, I was going with 18 to 80.

One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.

    1. Mother of 4 children, ages 16 – 7: I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.

    2. Mother of 3 children under the age of 5: I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.


    3. Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19: I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.

    4. Put them to work. Yes, this is what I did. Each time my kids began to squabble I gave them some kind of challenge that required they put their heads together, pool their resources and give up the fight in order to get the job done (and most of the jobs I made up required several hands or legs to complete, but were not difficult in nature). When the task was completed, or when I saw them working together, I took a snapshot of the moment and brought their attention to it. Over the years, this became the kids litmus test. They could recall all the times they worked together and very few of the times they fought.

    5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

    6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

    7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing that it’s important to get along with your brother or sister from someone your child “admires” goes a long way in helping them consider the validity of the advice.

    8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging.

    9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. Find a good therapist to help you work through your issues and leave the kids to create their own – just kidding – kinda.

    10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Get a life – Not your kids’

I love this post. Please read it. I share her sentiments.

Five Reasons “My Kids Are My Whole Life” is a Stupid Thing To Say

On Zoe’s first day of school, she bravely, with only one glance back at me, walked through the school doors and into her life as a student. No crying, no gnashing of teeth, no clinging to me. That was 13 years ago. She has loved almost every day of her school life. Why? Well, there are several reasons.

  • School is for her. And because school is for her, she took ownership of it and of her experience while she was there.
  • I didn’t interfere with her experience that first day.

Next to me, on Zoe’s first day of school was another mother with her daughter who was clearly distraught. The 5 year old was crying and then screaming, and then pouting. She climbed up on her mother leg and up into her arms until her mother was holding her, almost like an infant. The 5 year old began to talk baby talk and the mother cooed to her using the voice we reserved for our newborns. When it was time for the child to walk into school, she couldn’t do it. In fact, it took near 15 minutes for this child to make it through the doors (parents were not allowed in on the first day – smart thinking on someone’s part).

Later, as we gathered for our instructions on how to be good PTO mothers and Room Mothers, the woman turned to me and said, “I noticed how easily your daughter went into school.”

I nodded and smiled.

“The thing is, my daughter and I have, how do I say this, a very deep and special bond and she NEVER wants to be away from me. Our love for each other is deep. Really deep.”

I froze. Back then, I had even less tact than I have now. I turned and looked at her and said, “You have got to be kidding me? You think that drama was a testament to the love you have for each other. Ha. You might want to talk to a few folks and get a reality check.”

I stood up and walked out.

She never spoke to me again, but that’s okay. I was pissed. I got over being angry and even tried to make eye contact with her, but to no avail.

5 years later, I happen to see this woman and her child on another “first” (dance class this time) and to my astonishment, the daughter pulled the exact same stunt, only this time, mom looked embarrassed.

I felt for her. I felt for them both.

No mother, intentionally ties themselves to their kids in unhealthy ways, but it happens. So, as the article above by Leslie Irish Evans suggests, take a step back, question your motives, decide if what you are doing is more for you than the child and then take a page out of our kid’s life and “get a life.” You will be happy you did and so will your kids.

As the author suggests, replace the statement “My children are my whole life,” with “My life is deeply enriched by my children.” Feel the difference?

If you need help making this transition and noticing character traits and qualities about your children that enrich your life and you appreciate, the Marble Jar app is just the tool to help you shift your perspective and increase your awareness!

Appreciations – What’s the Point?

appreciation-postI Appreciate …

  • “I appreciate that you shared your poster with me, so I could have one on my side of the room.” – Child, eight years old.

  • “I appreciate that you included your brother in what you were doing this afternoon when he was bored. You were able to make both of you happy.” – Mom of two, ages five and two.

  • “I appreciate that you stopped doing your own homework to help me with my history project (to sibling). I know you had to stay up a little late to get your own work done.” – Child, 15 years old.

  • “Thank you for playing with me (to a sibling).” – Child, two years old.

  • “I appreciate that you don’t embarrass me in front of my friends (to parents).” – Child, 12 years old.

  • “Dad, I appreciate that you put up the swing set for us, because you had a lot to do to fix up the house.” – Child, four years old.

These are some real life examples of appreciations that have been shared during the Family Meetings of families I know.

Imagine if you and your family shared appreciations each week during your weekly Family Meeting. Is it reasonable to think that these kind words and caring attitudes would eventually spill over into the conversations you have during the rest of the week? And imagine that soon, this kindness and appreciative nature would spill over into your conversations with colleagues at work, and your children’s conversations with friends and teachers at school?

Imagine if we all sent our children out into the world looking for the good in people and then appreciating it. Imagine the impact it would have on everyone concerned. It all starts with one appreciation, once a week, at the Family Meeting.

More information about Parenting On Track™ Family Meetings and Appreciations can be found in Chapter 9 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.