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“So just to clarify: 3-year-old girl kicks 1-year-old, there's a blood-curdling scream, and I am to hold my 3-year-old (after making sure the crying 1-year-old is fine, got that) and just sit with her until she feels better? No time-out, just hold her and tell her that I love her and that I know she is hurting too....So, no discipline, just love, i.e. more attention....more attention for kicking the baby?!"

I know exactly what this mom means. Someone kicks my baby? The lion-mama in me roars. The last thing I would feel like doing is lavishing love on the perpetrator.  READ POST

Friday, June 07, 2013 | Permalink

"Today I stepped outside to clean up some toys while my kids were eating. My 2 year old ran to the back door and cried out for me. My 4 year old didn't like his screaming and ran over and punched him several times. My 2 year old got so upset he threw up his whole lunch all over me. My 4 year old confessed "Mom, I did a bad thing...I punched S because he was crying and it made me mad." I have been getting very upset, sternly asking my 4 year old "Why do you want to hurt your brother?...I'm very disappointed in you and sad about this."  I typically do 4 minutes timeout and an apology for the bad behavior, then be nice to your brother for 3 days and then you get a superhero movie. Is this wrong?"

Is it a bad thing to use rewards and punishment?  Well, it doesn't actually work as well as emotion coaching and empathic limits to stop your son's hitting, and it doesn't teach the lessons you want to teach. The research says that if your son does stop hitting, it won't be because he has learned that hitting hurts his brother, but because he doesn't want to be punished. Of course, most parents would be willing to accept this, just to stop the hitting. But most kids just keep hitting, because the rewards and punishment don't help them with the underlying feelings or teach them a better way to solve the problem that caused the hitting. They just get sneakier, stop confessing, and start blaming. And it doesn't sound like your rewards and punishment are working, if he's still punching his brother to the point where his brother throws up.  READ POST

Friday, April 26, 2013 | Permalink

"When your son and daughter are fighting with each other, you want them to learn to resolve their differences successfully, but you may have never learned to successfully work through conflicts yourself. Before you can teach your kids to listen, identify the problem, express their feelings, generate solutions, and find common ground, you have to learn those problem-solving skills yourself"- Laura Davis & Janis Keyser

Should you intervene in a sibling fight?  If they're working it out well themselves, No. And often, children do. They're endlessly creative. Conflict is actually good for them, because it teaches them how to work things out with other people. As Pamela Dugdale says, “Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.” 

So remind yourself that a certain amount sibling squabbling is not only normal, but necessary.  If "peace" depends on kids being forced to swallow their needs to accommodate siblings on a regular basis, it isn't good for either of them. Your children need to develop their voices, learn how to express their needs, try out strategies to meet their goals.

But they also need to learn to listen to each other, empathize, and regulate their anger rather than dumping on others.  While our modeling helps with these skills, most kids need some targeted coaching to use them, at least when emotions are running hot.  READ POST

Thursday, March 21, 2013 | Permalink

"Whereas he was once the center of your universe, he has been displaced from this paradise. He is now in time out, while you coo at his tiny rival. You cannot, of course, push back the clock to a time when he, alone, was the apple of your eye. All the same, trying to imagine how frustrated your 3 year old must often feel can help you counteract his sense of loss. Your expressions of love, gestures of devotion, and moments of intimacy with your son can help him feel less deserted and alone. Helping your son recapture a sense of shared joy in his relationship with you will turn down the fuel of his hate, and--in addition--smooth the pathway to his identification with you as a loving, protective, sharing person. Like all small children, he wants at moments to be an indulged infant and at other moments to be a powerful grown-up, someone capable of indulging and taking care of others. Part of your son wants to cherish and protect his little sister, and you will be gladdened bit by bit as the growth of this grown-up, protecting person begins to express itself more powerfully in his personality." -- Elizabeth Berger

Today we wrap up our discussion of what to do when the almost-3- year old pees on the baby.  Last week we looked at why spankings and timeouts just increase the amount of anger your little one is feeling and make it even harder, over time, for him to control himself. (If you missed that post, it's here.)  Tuesday, we considered whether Sticker charts work for a crime of passion like this.  Wednesday, we nailed the real solution -- helping our little guy surface and heal the feelings driving his behavior -- in How much more love and affection can I give him?

Today, let's talk about connection. We've had long emails recently.  We'll keep this short.  READ POST

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Permalink

"Just how much more love and attention can I give him?"

If all your love and attention aren't changing his behavior, it's because they aren't addressing the feelings driving the behavior.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Permalink