Wednesday, September 10, 2008

PPP #11

Parenting Pointers Post #11
Help for the Frazzled Mom!
Based on Dr. Glenn I. Latham's book The Power of Positive Parenting

"Behave well. Good parenting is first a matter of teaching, second a matter of modeling, and never a matter of reacting." Dr. Glenn I. Latham

Ahhh...sibling rivalry! What would we parent's do without it? I can think of a lot of things, but that would be another post entirely.

Sibling rivalry is a normal age-typical behavior but also a major concern of most parents. Dr. Latham reminds us to first keep in mind that it is a characteristic of virtually all children. Even the most obedient and even tempered children fight with their brothers and sisters. It is a natural part of growing up in a family. It is one of the ways by which children learn how to survive in society. Dr. Latham claims that it helps teach them what they can and cannot get away with. I love how he says that we must remember children are in the process of becoming civilized. For the most part children are generally and basically selfish. They tend to be insensitive to the feelings of others. Name calling, fighting, insulting gestures-you name it-are all part of the syndrome. But we parents tend to give these kinds of behaviors far, far too much attention.

When our children are fighting with one another, we tend to worry that when they grow up they are going to behave toward others in society as they behave toward their siblings. These worrisome thoughts are for the most part totally unwarranted.
Dr. Latham teaches that there are some things we as parents can do to keep sibling rivalry within a tolerable range. Keep in mind though, you are not going to completely eliminate rivalry among siblings unless you completely eliminate the siblings!!!

Here are five rules from the teachings of Dr. Latham that, if learned and skillfully used, will have a powerful and positive effect on the quality of life in your home.

1. Ignore inconsequential behavior.
Most sibling rivalry is age-typical behavior, most of which can and should be ignored. If left alone, it will likely just go away in time. It's something we all grew out of - or at least most of us!
If the kids are arguing, turn away from them or leave the room. He also suggests that if they are playing nicely you should turn your attention toward them, in order to reinforce their good behavior. Any of the behavior that is inconsequential, or in other words not going to hurt anyone, should be ignored. Keep in mind, this is not going to be easy! You may have to bite your tongue or even tape your mouth, but just do it!

2. Remain calm and composed but direct when you must intervene.
Sibling rivalry must be given your attention only when it becomes cruel, abusive, or threatening to a child's normal, healthy development. If the arguing becomes hurtful and abusive, then you need to step in, but remain calm and collected, without raising your voice. Remember to demonstrate self-control. A stern statement telling the children to stop the inappropriate behavior immediately may be sufficient in some cases. In others, you may have to use some form of discipline. Just remember to remain calm during the entire interaction.

3. Teach appropriate social skills.
When attending to sibling rivalry, once again maintain complete self-control, and use consequences that are important to the children to help bring behavior under control. It is up to you to manage those consequences and let them do the talking for you. Sibling rivalry is an uncivilized way for the child to express himself. When children are arguing and calling each other names, this is an opportunity for the parent to teach the children how to express themselves in a civilized and appropriate way.

4. Apply consequences.
If what you are inclined to say and do is not likely to make things better, don't say it and don't do it. If you feel uncertain about what to do, if you feel unable to deal with the situation calmly and reasonable, if your ability to be in control is compromised, then just walk away. We know when people are extremely angry, emotionally upset, drunk, or so on, it is very unlikely that a parent will be able to have a positive effect on things. It is better to wait for things to cool down and to let consequences do the talking. The consequence should be understood in advance, that is they know exactly what consequence they will receive for each specific action.

5. Acknowledge appropriate behavior.
Be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to have positive interactions with your children when they are behaving together nicely. If you have a tendency to allow these opportunities to get away from you, you might want to keep a record or put little prompts up around the house to remind you to say nice things to your children. These help us measure and pace our behavior. If you are on the lookout for good behavior and positively respond to it, the children will enjoy the attention and want to behave appropriately more often. Children value parent's attention and will get along with their siblings just to get it. Always remember a behavior that is ignored will decrease but a behavior that is given attention will increase.

As always...good luck, and as Dr. Latham used to say:


Audrey said...

I sure wish that you were giving this advise when I still had children living at home! It is great!

Michelle said...

So glad to see another one of these! I need them EVERY DAY! Think you could arrange to do that? lol! This one was very helpful ---as usual! Thanks!

deb said...

Thanks I love these! Keep em' coming!

Kelsee said...

I love your blog! It is so fun and uplifting. Love the parenting posts too! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge! I need this!

My Wonderful Men said...

I'm a positive mom. Some say Way to Much but that's o.k.

My hubby was raised much different then I, so he is not always so positive and it drives me crazy.

These are are keep posting them.

Jen said...

OH that not intervening thing is SO hard! I'm so glad you're doing these reminders. They really help me to refocus and do better.

Yvonne said...

Jodi, these are always so helpful. Thanks.


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