Behaviour, Powerful Parents, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present

SIBLING RIVALRY AND THE ART OF INTERVENTION

So, you survived another half term holiday, but secretly are jumping for joy that your little people are back to school or childcare right?

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

You’re not alone.

Spending Us time with our children is precious but often it can feel more of a challenge for most of us.

If your child’s behaviour can be difficult, spending Us Time together may not be something you relish doing.

You may or may not be surprised to know that many parents have admitted openly to me that, they actively look for distractions away from their children. And lots of parents feel a sense of relief when they drop their children to childcare or school and go to work.

This is not because they don’t love their children, quite the opposite, they really do love their children, they just don’t understand their behaviour or how to manage it, making time together more like hard work than fun, and they don’t want to upset their children or themselves any more than necessary.

At least at work we get a lunch break!

 If that sounds familiar, then you may be interested in reading my book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting because when we can understand our children’s behaviour better and they can understand us, Us Time becomes a more pleasurable experience.

Children need and want our attention, and they don’t mind how they get it.

That means if they don’t feel they’re getting enough of it naturally, they will force us to pay attention to them, usually by misbehaving.

When we have more than one child this spreading of our time and attention can be difficult, we’ll look at this in a minute when we address individual Us Time for each child, but first let’s uncover the art of intervention.

THE ART OF INTERVENTION

Knowing when to intervene in our children’s behaviour and when not to is a fine art to master. It takes a lot of thought, patience, and practice. We have to stop ourselves from flying off the handle at every incident and decide if it’s really such a big issue.

Does our children’s behaviour warrant a reaction from us that is likely to upset not only our children, but ourselves too? 

If it’s not that important, then we have to learn how to let it go. Nine times out of ten, none of its really that serious anyway.  This is not an excuse to get out of correcting our children’s unacceptable behaviour though—they have to abide by the rules in order to keep themselves safe and healthy.

IF IT’S NOT YOUR BATTLE THEN DON’T

FIGHT 

It’s knowing the difference between those times when we need to correct them and knowing when they have to learn how to correct themselves. For example, when they are squabbling with friends or siblings, it’s not always necessary or helpful for us to jump right in and intervene.

It’s important to step back and let them get on with it at times and let them argue amongst themselves and learn how to resolve their own issues. This is the only way they’ll learn how to get on with other people and how to resolve conflicts in a safe, nurturing environment. 

When our children hurt the ones they love, it teaches them when they have overstepped the mark. It offers them the opportunity to apologise and make up, or forgive the other person too if they feel they were justified. Silly little squabbles can be resolved between children without adult interference, so if it’s not our battle, then we don’t need to fight.

We have to find ways to proactively involve our children in the process of managing their emotions.  By making our children part of the solution today, we equip them to understand and manage themselves in the future. This potentially removes unwanted behaviour in the future.

Our children can be part of the problem or solution. We are not going to eradicate tantrums and unwanted behaviour, but how we approach it and involve our children in resolving it, is what makes all the difference.

TOMMY VS JOHNNY

Let’s say toddler Tommy has hit baby Johnny on purpose because baby Johnny was holding Tommy’s favourite Teddy and wouldn’t let it go. Auto pilot Mummy may smack or shout at Tommy and say ‘You’re the big Brother, you should know better.’ But obviously, Tommy didn’t!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Now, Auto pilot Mummy has reinforced hitting or shouting to resolve conflict.

But Tommy still hasn’t been taught how to share. That was the lesson there that auto pilot Mummy completely missed. She could’ve taught and coached Tommy by explaining that Johnny was a baby, who, like Tommy, doesn’t understand the concept of sharing and that certain toys belong to certain people.

All Tommy knew and was interested in was it was his favourite Teddy not his little brothers, and he wanted it back!

Johnny didn’t want to give it back though, so Tommy would do anything in his power to reclaim his beloved possession. And he did, he hit out. Proactive Mummy would have first made a fuss of baby Johnny who was hurt, not a fuss of toddler Tommy.

PROACTIVE PARENTING

Cue proactive Mummy’s chance to explain and teach Tommy, once baby Johnny had calmed down and was okay.

It’s frightening for a toddler to see how he can actually hurt someone he really loves, and at first glance, to auto pilot Mummy, Tommy’s reaction looks deliberate, as if he wanted to hurt his baby brother. But despite what morally he thought was right, it was his teddy after all, it wasn’t intentional, he hasn’t developed morals, this is something he’ll learn from his parents and being in these uncomfortable situations. The truth of the matter is, he simply couldn’t control his emotions.

Instead of ostracizing Tommy and sending him to the naughty step or giving him a label such as naughty or bad boy, proactive Mummy needs to involve him and show him that she loves him, but his behaviour was not appropriate.

It’s proactive Mummy’s moral duty to make it clear that Tommy must never put his  hands on anyone and to empathize that she  understands he was hurt that Johnny had his favourite teddy, and she knows why he reacted the way he did, but hurting someone else because he feels hurt doesn’t resolve things, it makes it worse. Giving him examples helps him to make connections with how his actions make others feel, for example, explaining to Tommy that what he had done was not acceptable and that baby Johnny now feels hurt like that time when_______, then filling in a blank with a time when Tommy was hurt and upset.

This invokes empathy. He may cry as he realises what he has done was wrong. He’s learnt a powerful emotional lesson here. This is proactive Mummy’s cue to offer a little reassurance, such as a kiss or a hug.

ALL EMOTIONS ARE OKAY

This way, she demonstrates that’s it’s okay to get angry and have these emotions, they are not bad, they are trying to teach us something, and that she accepts that he was angry and that happens sometimes, but there are other ways to release that anger. So next time he feels that way, he can come and talk about his feelings. This helps open up a channel of future communication.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

On the other hand, he may still not see that what he has done was wrong, so, as proactive parents, we have to be on the lookout for any repeat behaviour again so we can reinforce that lesson until he gets it. 

We also need to encourage him to make it up with his baby brother, maybe kiss baby Johnny better to show his affection and forgiveness, which is important. Having a family group hug makes Tommy feel forgiven and included again and Johnny feel better too, and as a parent, peace and love feels restored.

Coaching behaviour shows unconditional love, a naughty step shows our love comes with conditions.

Anything other than unconditional love will feel like hard work because it usually relies on our children meeting our expectations, which is always going to be difficult.

MAKE DAILY INDIVIDUAL US TIME FOR EACH CHILD

It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.

Although generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US Time’ for each individual child by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time.

One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, there will be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’.

Family Us Time is still important, and finding things we all like to do is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and see where everyone’s preferences lie so we can plan to do those things together, alongside individual Us Time.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Proactive, Stay Present & Stay Powerful

Em x

Thanks for featured image Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Proactive Parenting

Did Your Child Get a Space at the School You Wanted?

Yippee School Admissions Time!

It’s that time of year when, we discover if our little ones have got a place in the preferred school, we’ve chosen for them.

As I chatted to a friend at the school gates last week, who was devastated her child didn’t get into the primary school his siblings attended, I felt her pain.

I remember that dreaded anticipation myself many years ago!

Would my first born get a space in the School, I perceived to be the best in the area we lived in at that time?

Oh, the joy when I finally received that letter telling us she had got a place.

Off we went excitedly to buy her new school uniform. Such a proud first moment was her first day at school.

Then I had to relive all that stress, anxiety and worry once again two years later, when my Sons turn came to find out if he had a place?

The sleepless nights and despair I felt when I discovered that the catchment area boundaries had changed, and a new Welsh School which was opened within twenty feet of our house, threatened his place in his Sisters school, which we all loved because, I hate to honestly admit it, but all the parents seemed affluent and the learning league table for results was high.

On top of that, the school was rated a green for very good. The rating system was based on four colour coded categories; green, yellow, amber and red, this colour coding was to demonstrate how much support the schools needed. But relying on that colour system would have been pointless because that all soon changed anyway, as the School colours slipped down when the headteacher changed, something not too uncommon for lots of schools.

Again, the relief, when I received that letter saying my Son had a place in his Sisters school was exhilarating.

I wanted to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’

DOUBTS FEARS & TEARS

Yet looking back, there was no reason to celebrate, and all that stress, worry and anxiety was for nothing, as I removed my children half way through primary school, from that much sought- after, Welsh Medium School, to an English Medium School, (nothing to do with the language may I add).

Initially when I chose the Welsh School, I was happy with that decision.  A few years later that decision no longer felt like the right thing for my children, leaving me to make the proactive decision of changing their schools.

A lot of parents felt the same way as me at the time, and also wanted to remove their children, but they didn’t as they were fearful how it would affect them.

I on the other hand feared how keeping my children in their current school would affect them?

But it was a decision I needed help with, so I proactively involved my children in the decision-making process, every step of the way.

This took a lot of the pressure off me to make the decision and gave them a choice.

My Daughter was keen to change schools, my Son however, was not so keen.

I asked them both to individually list the pros and cons for staying in their old school and moving to the new school. This was discussed verbally, then I drew up a pros and cons list (putting it in writing helped us all to physically see the outcome.) Both children had more pros for moving and more cons for staying put.


list the pros and cons

The decision was made instantly based on those lists.

I didn’t dwell on it or give them time to worry about the consequences, I took immediate action and within a week, they had both moved to a new school.

Today they are now in High School, but they have never regretted moving schools and the only affects it had on them at the time, were positive.

They’ve made great best friends that otherwise they would never have met and are both confident and sociable, and despite joining a new school mid-way through their primary years, their academic ability has soared. 

Children are much more resilient than we give them credit for, it’s us as parents that have the doubts, fears and tears, not our children.

PARENTAL INTUITION

The initial idea to change schools came from my own parental intuition. I could have taken the easy option and ignored what I felt. I could have found many excuses to keep them in their old school but that would have kept me reactive as a parent, not proactive.

I probably would have been complaining to the school over issues that I was unhappy with for years, and would have always wondered, what if they had gone to a different school? 

Proactivity quashes regrets before they fester.

Feeling confident to take -action, comes from that parental intuition that we all have, which arises from knowing and loving our children. 

This insight is invaluable to tune into, as it helps us to know how our children will respond to certain people, events, or situations in advance. This gives us time to take the necessary steps, in order to avoid situations turning out undesirably.

Fortunately, this proactive approach arising from instinct or intuition, is something we naturally do as parents, most of the time anyway.

Although my Husband and I made the right choice in moving our children to a different school, and both of our children excelled in their new school, none of us regret them having gone to the old school.

My children made some great friends there (as did I, I’m still friends with some fab parents from their old primary school today)

And my children also learnt how to speak Welsh fluently at a young age (which I’ve no doubt is the reason they do so well in this subject now, as its now a compulsory GCSE subject in my Children’s English Medium High School.)

In addition, my children learnt how to change and adapt to new circumstances, build on their self- confidence and form new relationships, all invaluable skills to learn at a young age.

ACCEPTANCE

We all learn from experimentation and experience.

That’s why nothing happens in vain. When we view any experience, circumstance or relationship this way, we free ourselves from worry, stress and anxiety. Its all a learning opportunity. This helps us to accept what is, even if what is, isn’t what we want!

As parent’s, we need to accept that we won’t always make the right choices or decisions all of the time. And that’s ok, because we can, and will learn from all of them, good or bad along the way.

As long as we keep moving, we will make progress and rid ourselves of paralysis by analysis. By doing what we can, we can feel confident in the knowledge that we are always doing our best.


Its all a learning opportunity.

We will then be free to relax knowing that, we cannot control everything that happens to our children.

And this is a good thing, because we cannot learn everything for them, there will be times when they will have to learn for themselves, often the hard way.

Therefore, the most proactive thing that we can all do as parents, is to decide today to stop worrying about our children’s; behaviour, education, health, happiness, safety, success or whatever else is worrying us at the moment, and take- action to do something about it.

If its out of our control and we can’t do anything about the outcome or circumstances, as in the case of not getting a space at a preferred school for our child, then acceptance is the only choice we really have. This means letting go of the illusions of how perfect that school would have been, and how our children have lost out. There’s no loss, as they never had that space to begin with. There’s no loss, as there are alternatives, and alas, other schools that could end up being just as good, if not even better in the long run?

We can only do the best we can do, at any given moment in time, with the knowledge, experiences and resources we have at that time.

Circumstances change and so do we.

My priorities and perspective on my childrens initial primary school changed. So did the influential people at that school, and the school’s performance and colour coding. Had I known all that years ago, then I wouldn’t have worried for a second whether my children got a space at that school or not?

You may be experiencing joy and exhilaration, as you open that envelop that says your child has a place at your preferred school?

Or you may have doubts, fears and tears, as you hear your child has not been accepted?

But fear not, things are not always as bad as they seem. And years from now, like me, you may look back with relief, that actually, what you thought your child was denied, was in fact the best thing that could have happened?

Stay Present,

Em x