Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
There are so many things that can affect a child’s success, including socioeconomic status, the environment they live in, and their parents’ education level.
Though it can be difficult for studies to determine what parenting techniques are ideal since researchers usually don’t follow families long-term, there are certain parental behaviors that scientists have found could be linked to problems in children, like depression and anxiety, later in life.
Here are nine things parents do that might be making kids unsuccessful, according to psychology research:
1. They don’t encourage their kids to be independent.
Being independent could help adolescents resist peer pressure.
In 1997, a study at Vanderbilt University found that parents who psychologically controlled their children created to a host of negative outcomes for kids, including low self-confidence and self-reliance.
Encouraging children — especially teens — to be independent can be a good thing, especially in enhancing their ability to resolve conflict and have interpersonal relationships, according to this study in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Additionally, this study found evidence that more independence could lead to an increase in teens’ ability to resist peer pressure.
2. They yell at their kids — a lot.
Harsh verbal discipline may be detrimental long-term.
A 2013 study out of the University of Pittsburgh found evidence that harsh verbal discipline like shouting, cursing, or using insults may be detrimental to kids’ well-being in the long-term.
The two-year study also found that harsh verbal discipline had comparable negative effects — such as behavioral problems and depressive symptoms — to studies that focused on physical discipline.
“It’s a tough call for parents because it goes both ways: problem behaviors from children create the desire to give harsh verbal discipline, but that discipline may push adolescents toward those same problem behaviors,” the study’s author said in a press release.
3. They’re ‘helicopter parents.’
There’s such a thing as being “too” involved.
While being an involved parent is a good thing, being a “helicopter parent,” or a parent who is over-controlling, could result in higher levels of anxiety and depression in children.
“Students who reported having over-controlling parents reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction with life,” researchers wrote in a 2013 study of nearly 300 college students in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
It’s one in a number of other studies that point to a possible connection between over-controlling parents and depression in college-aged young adults, including a 2011 study from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The researchers found that children with so-called “helicopter parents” were less open to new ideas, more self-conscious, and happened to use more pain pills recreationally.
4. They let their children decide their bed times.
Irregular bedtimes could affect the developing brain.
Researchers from the UK found a link between irregular bedtimes and worsening behavior scores, which included hyperactivity, conduct problems, peer issues, and emotional difficulties.
Plus, irregular bedtimes could affect the developing brain.
“We know that early child development has profound influences on health and wellbeing across the life course. It follows that disruptions to sleep, especially if they occur at key times in development, could have important lifelong impacts on health,” one of the study’s authors, Yvonne Kelly, told Medical News Daily.
5. They let them watch TV when they’re really young.
Copious amounts of TV could be a bad idea for kids.
Though screen time has been a parental boogieman for decades, it seems there may be cause for concern.
A 2007 study published in The Journal of Pediatrics indicates that heavy television viewing for kids before three years of age affects vocabulary, participation, and made them more likely to bully other classmates when they enter kindergarten.
Heavy television usage has also been associated with attention problems as well as impaired reading and math proficiency.
Some studies have indicated that educational programs like “Sesame Street” or “Barney” are beneficial, but only for kids between two-and-a-half and five years old.
6. They’re authoritarian.
“You need to get straight A’s because I said so.”
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumride found in the 1960s that there are basically three kinds of parenting styles: permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative.
The ideal is authoritative — a parent who tries to direct the child rationally. The worst? Authoritarian parents who are demanding and discourage open communication.
To put that in a real world context, authoritarian parents might say, “You need to get straight A’s because I said so.”It’s a strict guideline without any rationale the child can understand.
On the other hand, authoritative parents would explain that good grades help kids learn and advance in life.
Authoritarian parenting could lead to inhibited performance in school, according to a 2005 study in Educational Psychology Review, though the author notes that “these findings are not consistent across culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.”
7. They use their cellphones frequently around their kids.
Cellphones can distract parents.
A study published this year in the journal of Translational Psychiatry showed that distracted parents could negatively affect their children’s development.
The study was in rats, so we don’t know yet if it could apply to humans.
At the very least, our technology-induced distractions can’t be a great thing. Some emergency room doctors who have seen a rise in child injuries believe our smart phones could be a plausible explanation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And a 2015 Pennsylvania State University study posited that smartphone usage “poses a real danger to the welfare and development of children.”
8. They’re cold or distant towards their children.
It doesn’t hurt to show your kids you love them.
Though it may seem obvious, there’s no replacement for developing a healthy, positive bond with your child.
Multiple studies have found low levels of parental warmth can contribute to behavioral problems as well as insecurity and emotional difficulties in children and adolescents.
Kids who don’t get parental praise may also experience social withdrawal and anxiety, according to one 1986 study.
9. They use spanking as a punishment.
Spanking may not be the best way to punish your child.
Spanking’s effect on children has been studied since the ’80s and the punishment has consistently been tied to hyperactivity, aggression, and oppositional behavior in children.
In a 2000 study, researchers found that first graders with behavioral problems whose parents spanked them were more likely to be disruptive.
And in 2016, a University of Texas at Austin analysis confirmed that based on 50 years of research on 160,000 children, spanking was associated with mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.
Toddlers cared for by their families have stronger language skills…but those left in crèches are better with their hands
- Study used data taken from Ireland’s national longitudinal study of children
- Researchers found babies in ‘centre-based care’ have better motor skills such as hand-eye coordination than those at home
- While language skills were the only area in which children who are cared for by their own extended family outperformed others by the age of three
- This suggests that a mixture of childcare is ideal for pre-school infants
Infants who are looked after by a parent or other relative during their formative years have been found to develop speech faster and more effectively than those in crèches.
But working mothers who use childcare facilities needn’t feel guilty because toddlers in ‘centre-based care’ have better motor skills such as hand-eye coordination.
The study suggests there is no single childcare type that is necessarily better or worse than any other and that a mixture is ideal.
Researchers at Maynooth University showed language skills are the only area in which children who are cared for by their own extended family outperformed others by the age of three.
They used data collected from the national longitudinal study of children, ‘Growing Up in Ireland,’ which gave them a nationally representative sample size of more than 11,000 infants and 8,500 children.
This allowed them to study the influence of early childcare choices on child development between nine months and three years.
The study, expected to to be published later this month, said: ‘Babies in centre-based care show greater abilities in fine motor skills (e.g. turning of page, holding of pencil) than babies who have not attended centre based care.’
‘However babies cared for by relatives at nine months are demonstrably stronger in vocabulary or naming skills.’
Report author Catriona O’Toole said: ‘The research highlights there is no single childcare type that is necessarily better or worse than any other.
‘Children and families are complex and have diverse childcare needs.
‘Therefore, a multi-strategy approach to childcare is appropriate, whereby consideration to given to the development of warm, responsive and stimulating environments for all children, regardless of whether they are cared for in the formal early years sector, with childminders, relatives, or by stay-at-home parents.’
The researchers stressed that children’s physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development is influenced by earlier developmental milestones and that a family’s wealth and resources as well as childcare plays a role.
The report added that access to paid-for childcare depends on social class and children born into richer families are more likely to go to crèches, for example.
It also claimed that investment in childcare only has a limited effect on people later in life, particularly for children living in poverty.
‘There is a tendency to view investment in early childcare care and education as the ultimate policy instrument for abolishing inequalities in childhood, co-author Delta Brown said.
She also said the study highlights the increasing role grandparents are playing in caring for children.
‘The positive outcomes in language and communication development associated with care by grandparents may indicate that children do particularly well when they and their families have access to a wide circle of social support.’
The study highlights the increasing role grandparents are playing in caring for children (illustrated by stock image) and says the the positive outcomes in language and communication development associated with care by grandparents indicates children do better in well-supported families.
I have to be a slave to the man to pay the mortgage and have no relatives who are crazy enough to deal with my children for free for nine hours a day, so I send my kids to daycare.
For those of you with kids in daycare, you know that it is an awesome place. I love our daycare. The teachers are ridiculously amazing and our kids basically walk in and give me the, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass” look when I go to hug them goodbye.
Daycare teachers deserve awards for putting up with someone else’s germ-encrusted kids all day for little pay. They don’t rake in big bucks, they do it because they love kids. They are saints. But even with all the learning, hugs between tiny friends, awesome teachers and snacks, daycare has its downfalls…
1. The First Day. Whether you are dropping your infant off for their first day ever away from the wicked awesomeness that is Mommy, or dropping your toddler off for their first day at a new daycare, the first day blows. Big time. The first time I dropped The Quite Contemplator off at daycare following maternity leave, I rocked with her in a rocker and bawled like a fat girl whose cake was stolen for about an hour. Thankfully, it was only hard on me. Newborns don’t seem to even notice you are gone. Toddlers, on the other hand, add a little more drama to the situation. Cue dropping your child off for the first day at a new daycare only to have them cling to your leg screaming, “Mommy! Don’t leave me!” Thanks for that, kid. As if leaving you here so I can work on TPS reports all day wasn’t hard enough.
2. The Germy Kid. No, it is not just an urban myth that daycares are cesspools of germs. Hand, foot and mouth, roseola, croup, you name it, daycares are full of sexy-sounding illnesses that will invade your child. No matter how much cleaning and bleach a daycare uses, germs are inevitable. Kids are just gross and love to share (their germs, not their toys for God’s sakes!). Somehow, all of these illnesses seem to be traceable back to one kid: The Germy Kid. What exactly does this kid do on the weekends that he comes back every Monday with a new plague to spread upon his peers? Roll around in the Infectious Diseases lab at the hospital? Eat contaminated meat and dairy? Lick toilet seats? Come on! Spray this kid down with some Lysol and put him in quarantine already. Mommy is out of sick days. (My lovely carrier monkeys just managed to get their entire school sick right before our big Halloween party. Suck. And you’re welcome.)
3. The Thermometer Mambo. Speaking of The Germy Kid, his outbreaks of mucus- and fever-inducing bacteria lead many mamas to do what I call the Thermometer Mambo. 100.1 is the most dreaded number for daycare moms. That is the number that means your kid is being sent home and has to stay there for at least 24 hours. This is fine, of course, if your kid is actually sick. I love me nothing more than rocking a sick baby in my arms while I catch up on my TiVo in my jammies. But most of the time it is just teething/a cold/malaria/your child trying to sap your will to live. Every time The Quiet Contemplator got a tooth, her fever would be EXACTLY 100.1. I am not even kidding. I spent about 50 sicks days with her at home, happy as a clam before I had to be “that mom” and break out my friend Mr. Tylenol to get her below the magic number. But many times, they really are sick, and that is when you get The Call.
4. The Call. The Call is what you get when you have lost the battle with Thermometer Mambo, or worse. Every mommy dreads seeing their daycare’s number come up on their caller ID. It is never them calling to let you know that your kid is a ray of sunshine and puppy dogs and that they just wanted you to know how much they love having them. It is daycare calling to let you know that the projectile vomiting has commenced or that your kid is on the way to get stitches. I usually answer this call in some sort of, “What now?” fashion.
5. The Mean Kid. Every daycare has a mean kid. I am not talking about the everyday toddler behavior all kids exhibit. I am talking about the kid that you just look at and can see that their tiny beady eyes are filled with mirth. This is the kid that is always pushing, hitting, saying “mine!”, stealing toys, etc. Often, this kid is also The Germy Kid.
6. The Incident Report. Sometimes these are the results of The Mean Kid attacking your child, sometimes these are reports of your child finally having enough from The Mean Kid and going all Cujo on them. Either way, they are embarrassing. You end up feeling like either your kid needs to buck up and hit back, or your kid has been watching too much Ultimate Fighting and needs to back off. Awesomeness all around. I just got an incident report stating that The Contemplator had hit the sweetest little girl in her class in the face with a truck. Out of nowhere. For no reason. Can toddlers file lawsuits? I am pretty sure she has a case. There goes The Contemplator’s college fund.
7. The It’s-Almost-Cheaper-to-Stay-Home Sayer. Let me cut this one off right at the knees. No, it is not almost cheaper for me to stay home with my kids than to work and send them to daycare. I am not raking in the McGotbucks working at a non-profit and all, but daycare costs less than I make in a year. Also, staying at home doesn’t pay for insurance, or provide for retirement, or the many other frivolous needs mama has. And, since my husband is in the über high-paying profession of being a 4th grade teacher, mama has to work.
8. The Guilt. Like all mommies, daycare mamas have to deal with The Guilt. Was my kid too sick to go into daycare today? Is The Mean Kid going to make them cry again? Is it really cheaper for me to stay at home with them? Am I a bad mom for working when we could make it on Spam and cheese if I just stayed home? The Guilt sucks. But, like all Domestic Enemies, some days it sucks big time and some days it only sucks a little.
If you believe the ads, every kid needs a daily Flintstone or Gummy Bear vitamin. But is it true?
Not necessarily so, the experts agree. Ideally, kids should get their vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet that includes:
Milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt (preferably low-fat products for kids over age 3)
Plenty of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables
Protein like chicken, fish, meat, and eggs
Whole grains like steel-cut oats and brown rice
Which Kids Need Vitamin Supplements?
Given the reality of time-crunched parents, those well-rounded, home-cooked meals aren’t always possible. That’s why pediatricians may recommend a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement for:
Kids who aren’t eating regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods
Finicky eaters who simply aren’t eating enough
Kids with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems, especially if they’re taking medications (be sure to talk with your child’s doctor first before starting a supplement if your child is on medication)
Particularly active kids who play physically demanding sports
Kids eating a lot of fast foods, convenience foods, and processed foods
Kids on a vegetarian diet (they may need an iron supplement), a dairy-free diet (they may need a calcium supplement), or other restricted diet
Kids who drink a lot of carbonated sodas, which can leach vitamins and minerals from their bodies
Top Six Vitamins and Minerals for Kids
In the alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals, a few stand out as critical for growing kids.
Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development; tissue and bone repair; and healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, yams, and squash.
Vitamin Bs. The family of B vitamins — B2, B3, B6, and B12 — aid metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.
Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin. Good sources include citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.
Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium. Good sources include milk and other dairy products, and fish oil. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
Calcium helps build strong bones as a child grows. Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
Iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a risk in adolescence, especially for girls once they begin to menstruate. Good sources include beef and other red meats, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.
Megavitamins — large doses of vitamins — aren’t a good idea for children. The fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) can be toxic if kids overdose on excessive amounts. Ditto with iron. Your kids can get too much of a good thing.
Look to Fresh Foods for the Best Vitamins
Healthy kids get their best start from what you put in your grocery cart.
Good nutrition starts by serving a wide variety of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. That’s far better than serving up fast foods or convenience foods — and hoping that taking a kids’ vitamin will undo any nutritional no-no’s. You’ll find the most vitamins and minerals in foods high in carbohydrates and proteins (rather than fats). By far, the most high-vitamin foods of all are fresh fruits and vegetables.
To give kids more vitamins, aim for more variety — not simply more food. Twice as many kids today are overweight than just two decades ago, so use kid-sized food portions, which are one-quarter to one-third the size of adult portions.
Spread the variety of foods into several small meals and snacks throughout the day. If your child won’t eat a particular food for a few days — like vegetables — don’t fret. But reintroduce those foods again a day or two later, perhaps prepared in a different way. Kids’ “food strikes” usually end by themselves.
Vitamins and Healthy Kids: Five Tips
If you do give vitamins to your kids, follow these tips:
Put vitamins away, well out of reach of children, so they don’t treat them like candy.
Try not to battle over foods with your kids or use desserts as a bribe to “clean your plate.” Instead, try giving a chewable vitamin as a “treat” at the end of a meal. Fat-soluble vitamins can only be absorbed with food.
If your child is taking any medication, be sure to ask your child’s doctor about any drug interactions with certain vitamins or minerals. Then the supplement won’t boost or lower the medication dose.
Try a chewable vitamin if your child won’t take a pill or liquid supplement.
Consider waiting until a child reaches age 4 to start giving a multivitamin supplement, unless your child’s doctor suggests otherwise.
Sound nutrition plays a role in your child’s learning and development. So, rather than relying on cartoon characters selling supplements, commit to feeding a range of healthy foods to your kids.
Made using simple craft cupboard materials, this delightful Santa Christmas craft is sure to delight kids of all ages!
Cup And Ball Santa Craft
You will need:
Red and white felt
Small red pompom
Red, black and pink craft foam
Paint the ball pink and the cup red and leave to dry.Glue the ball to the bottom of the cup.
Cut two arms from red foam and two hands from pink. Glue one hand to the end of each arm and the other ends of the arms to the body.
Cut a strip of black foam and glue it around the middle of the cup as a belt.
Make a hat by rolling some fed felt into a cone. Glue the edge of the cone and glue the hat to the top of the ball. Cut a band of white felt and glue it around the edge of the hat. Add a pompom at the end of the hat.
Cut a beard from white felt and glue to the front of the face. Add a red pompom nose.
Finally, add two eyes and draw on a mouth.
A major part of discipline is learning how to talk with children. The way you talk to your child teaches him how to talk to others. Here are some talking tips we have learned with our children:
1. Connect Before You Direct
Before giving your child directions, squat to your child’s eye level and engage your child in eye-to-eye contact to get his attention. Teach him how to focus: “Mary, I need your eyes.” “Billy, I need your ears.” Offer the same body language when listening to the child. Be sure not to make your eye contact so intense that your child perceives it as controlling rather than connecting.
2. Address The Child
Open your request with the child’s name, “Lauren, will you please…”
3. Stay Brief
We use the one-sentence rule: Put the main directive in the opening sentence. The longer you ramble, the more likely your child is to become parent-deaf. Too much talking is a very common mistake when dialoging about an issue. It gives the child the feeling that you’re not quite sure what it is you want to say. If she can keep you talking she can get you sidetracked.
4. Stay Simple
Use short sentences with one-syllable words. Listen to how kids communicate with each other and take note. When your child shows that glazed, disinterested look, you are no longer being understood.
5. Ask Your Child to Repeat the Request Back to You
If he can’t, it’s too long or too complicated.
6. Make an offer the child can’t refuse
You can reason with a two or three-year-old, especially to avoid power struggles. “Get dressed so you can go outside and play.” Offer a reason for your request that is to the child’s advantage, and one that is difficult to refuse. This gives her a reason to move out of her power position and do what you want her to do.
7. Be Positive
Instead of “no running,” try: “Inside we walk, outside you may run.”
8. Begin your Directives With “I want.”
Instead of “Get down,” say “I want you to get down.” Instead of “Let Becky have a turn,” say “I want you to let Becky have a turn now.” This works well with children who want to please but don’t like being ordered. By saying “I want,” you give a reason for compliance rather than just an order.
“When you get your teeth brushed, then we’ll begin the story.” “When your work is finished, then you can watch TV.” “When,” which implies that you expect obedience, works better than “if,” which suggests that the child has a choice when you don’t mean to give him one.
10. Legs First, Mouth Second
Instead of hollering, “Turn off the TV, it’s time for dinner!” walk into the room where your child is watching TV, join in with your child’s interests for a few minutes, and then, during a commercial break, have your child turn off the TV. Going to your child conveys you’re serious about your request; otherwise children interpret this as a mere preference.
11. Give Choices
“Do you want to put your pajamas on or brush your teeth first?” “Red shirt or blue one?”
12. Speak Developmentally Correctly
The younger the child, the shorter and simpler your directives should be. Consider your child’s level of understanding. For example, a common error parents make is asking a three-year- old, “Why did you do that?” Most adults can’t always answer that question about their behavior. Try instead, “Let’s talk about what you did.”
13. Speak Socially Correctly
Even a two-year-old can learn “please.” Expect your child to be polite. Children shouldn’t feel manners are optional. Speak to your children the way you want them to speak to you.
14. Speak Psychologically Correctly
Threats and judgmental openers are likely to put the child on the defensive. “You” messages make a child clam up. “I” messages are non-accusing. Instead of “You’d better do this…” or “You must…,” try “I would like….” or “I am so pleased when you…” Instead of “You need to clear the table,” say “I need you to clear the table.” Don’t ask a leading question when a negative answer is not an option. “Will you please pick up your coat?” Just say, “Pick up your coat, please.”
15. Write It
Reminders can evolve into nagging so easily, especially for preteens who feel being told things puts them in the slave category. Without saying a word you can communicate anything you need said. Talk with a pad and pencil. Leave humorous notes for your child. Then sit back and watch it happen.
16. Talk The Child Down
The louder your child yells, the softer you respond. Let your child ventilate while you interject timely comments: “I understand” or “Can I help?” Sometimes just having a caring listener available will wind down the tantrum. If you come in at his level, you have two tantrums to deal with. Be the adult for him.
17. Settle The Listener
Before giving your directive, restore emotional equilibrium, otherwise you are wasting your time. Nothing sinks in when a child is an emotional wreck.
18. Replay Your Message
Toddlers need to be told a thousand times. Children under two have difficulty internalizing your directives. Most three- year-olds begin to internalize directives so that what you ask begins to sink in. Do less and less repeating as your child gets older. Preteens regard repetition as nagging.
19. Let Your Child Complete The Thought
Instead of “Don’t leave your mess piled up,” try: “Matthew, think of where you want to store your soccer stuff.” Letting the child fill in the blanks is more likely to create a lasting lesson.
20. Use Rhyme Rules
“If you hit, you must sit.” Get your child to repeat them.
21. Give Likable Alternatives
You can’t go by yourself to the park; but you can play in the neighbor’s yard.
22. Give Advance Notice
“We are leaving soon. Say bye-bye to the toys, bye-bye to the girls…”
23. Open Up a Closed Child
Carefully chosen phrases open up closed little minds and mouths. Stick to topics that you know your child gets excited about. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no. Stick to specifics. Instead of “Did you have a good day at school today?” try “What is the most fun thing you did today?”
24. Use “When You…I Feel…Because…”
When you run away from mommy in the store I feel worried because you might get lost.
25. Close The Discussion
If a matter is really closed to discussion, say so. “I’m not changing my mind about this. Sorry.” You’ll save wear and tear on both you and your child. Reserve your “I mean business” tone of voice for when you do.
About Sibling Rivalry
While many kids are lucky enough to become the best of friends with their siblings, it’s common for brothers and sisters to fight. (It’s also common for them to swing back and forth between adoring and detesting one other!)
Often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As kids reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly affect how they relate to one another.
It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your kids fight with one another. A household that’s full of conflict is stressful for everyone. Yet often it’s hard to know how to stop the fighting, and or even whether you should get involved at all. But you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help your kids get along.
Why Kids Fight
Many different things can cause siblings to fight. Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into squabbles and bickering. But other factors also might influence how often kids fight and how severe the fighting gets. These include:
- Evolving needs. It’s natural for kids’ changing needs, anxieties, and identities to affect how they relate to one another. For example, toddlers are naturally protective of their toys and belongings, and are learning to assert their will, which they’ll do at every turn. So if a baby brother or sister picks up the toddler’s toy, the older child may react aggressively. School-age kids often have a strong concept of fairness and equality, so might not understand why siblings of other ages are treated differently or feel like one child gets preferential treatment. Teenagers, on the other hand, are developing a sense of individuality and independence, and might resent helping with household responsibilities, taking care of younger siblings, or even having to spend time together. All of these differences can influence the way kids fight with one another.
- Individual temperaments. Your kids’ individual temperaments — including mood, disposition, and adaptability — and their unique personalities play a large role in how well they get along. For example, if one child is laid back and another is easily rattled, they may often get into it. Similarly, a child who is especially clingy and drawn to parents for comfort and love might be resented by siblings who see this and want the same amount of attention.
- Special needs/sick kids. Sometimes, a child’s special needs due to illness or learning/emotional issues may require more parental time. Other kids may pick up on this disparity and act out to get attention or out of fear of what’s happening to the other child.
- Role models. The way that parents resolve problems and disagreements sets a strong example for kids. So if you and your spouse work through conflicts in a way that’s respectful, productive, and not aggressive, you increase the chances that your children will adopt those tactics when they run into problems with one another. If your kids see you routinely shout, slam doors, and loudly argue when you have problems, they’re likely to pick up those bad habits themselves.
What to Do When the Fighting Starts
While it may be common for brothers and sisters to fight, it’s certainly not pleasant for anyone in the house. And a family can only tolerate a certain amount of conflict. So what should you do when the fighting starts?
Whenever possible, don’t get involved. Step in only if there’s a danger of physical harm. If you always intervene, you risk creating other problems. The kids may start expecting your help and wait for you to come to the rescue rather than learning to work out the problems on their own. There’s also the risk that you — inadvertently — make it appear to one child that another is always being “protected,” which could foster even more resentment. By the same token, rescued kids may feel that they can get away with more because they’re always being “saved” by a parent.
If you’re concerned by the language used or name-calling, it’s appropriate to “coach” kids through what they’re feeling by using appropriate words. This is different from intervening or stepping in and separating the kids.
Even then, encourage them to resolve the crisis themselves. If you do step in, try to resolve problems with your kids, not for them.
When getting involved, here are some steps to consider:
- Separate kids until they’re calm. Sometimes it’s best just to give them space for a little while and not immediately rehash the conflict. Otherwise, the fight can escalate again. If you want to make this a learning experience, wait until the emotions have died down.
- Don’t put too much focus on figuring out which child is to blame. It takes two to fight — anyone who is involved is partly responsible.
- Next, try to set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. When they both want the same toy, perhaps there’s a game they could play together instead.
- Remember, as kids cope with disputes, they also learn important skills that will serve them for life — like how to value another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate, and how to control aggressive impulses.
Helping Kids Get Along
Simple things you can do every day to prevent fighting include:
- Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. Tell the kids to keep their hands to themselves and that there’s no cursing, no name-calling, no yelling, no door slamming. Solicit their input on the rules — as well as the consequences when they break them. This teaches kids that they’re responsible for their own actions, regardless of the situation or how provoked they felt, and discourages any attempts to negotiate regarding who was “right” or “wrong.”
- Don’t let kids make you think that everything always has to be “fair” and “equal” — sometimes one kid needs more than the other.
- Be proactive in giving your kids one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs. For example, if one likes to go outdoors, take a walk or go to the park. If another child likes to sit and read, make time for that too.
- Make sure kids have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.
- Show and tell your kids that, for you, love is not something that comes with limits.
- Let them know that they are safe, important, and loved, and that their needs will be met.
- Have fun together as a family. Whether you’re watching a movie, throwing a ball, or playing a board game, you’re establishing a peaceful way for your kids to spend time together and relate to each other. This can help ease tensions between them and also keeps you involved. Since parental attention is something many kids fight over, fun family activities can help reduce conflict.
- If your children frequently squabble over the same things (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child “owns” that item at what times during the week. (But if they keep fighting about it, take the “prize” away altogether.)
- If fights between your school-age kids are frequent, hold weekly family meetings in which you repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. Consider establishing a program where the kids earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling.
- Recognize when kids just need time apart from each other and the family dynamics. Try arranging separate play dates or activities for each kid occasionally. And when one child is on a play date, you can spend one-on-one time with another.
- Keep in mind that sometimes kids fight to get a parent’s attention. In that case, consider taking a time-out of your own. When you leave, the incentive for fighting is gone. Also, when your own fuse is getting short, consider handing the reins over to the other parent, whose patience may be greater at that moment.
Getting Professional Help
In a small percentage of families, the conflict between brothers and sisters is so severe that it disrupts daily functioning, or particularly affects kids emotionally or psychologically. In those cases, it’s wise to get help from a mental health professional. Seek help for sibling conflict if it:
- is so severe that it’s leading to marital problems
- creates a real danger of physical harm to any family member
- is damaging to the self-esteem or psychological well-being of any family member
- may be related to other significant concerns, such as depression
- If you have questions about your kids’ fighting, talk with your doctor, who can help you determine whether your family might benefit from professional help and refer you to local behavioral health resources.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Shroff Pendley, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2012
String buttons and felt and paper flowers onto yarn and chenille stems to make adorable necklaces and rings.
What you’ll need: Narrow chenille stems, mini hole punch, felt and paper flower embellishments, scissors, assorted buttons, yarn or thin cord
Make it: To make rings, cut a short length of chenille stem and bring ends together to form a loop. Punch two holes in the center of felt and paper flowers and stack them onto the chenille stem loop (keeping the ends together): Thread one end of the chenille stem through one hole in the flowers and button; repeat with the other end of the pipe cleaner on the second hole. Twist the ends together, trim excess if needed, and make sure there are no sharp ends sticking up. To make necklaces, thread yarn through stacked flowers and buttons.
Ever have a conversation that goes like this…?
“What do you want to do this weekend?”
“I dunno, whatta you wanna do?”
*Shoulder shrug and sigh*
“I dunno; there’s nothing to ever do around here.”
I’ve had conversations like that many times in the past, but not anymore. I’m learning to appreciate the little things in life and enjoy living in the moment more. Too often when we think about “fun” things, we think of the expensive options like taking in a ballgame, going on vacation, or going to a concert.
Here’s a list to help free you from boredom without emptying your wallet this weekend.
1. Go to the Park
You can take your family or go with a friend. Swing on the swings like when you were a kid.
2. Watch the Sunset
Find a great spot in your community to catch the sunset. We have a lake by our house that offers some great views!
3. Pack a Picnic Lunch
Throw a picnic lunch together and find a shady spot to enjoy the day with your loved ones.
4. Play Board Games
Bring out the old favorites like Monopoly or Scrabble, or find new board games to play. (See also: Board Games That Make You Think)
5. Play Card Games
Invite a few friends over and have a card night.
6. Do a Road Rally With Friends
Get some friends together and go on a mobile scavenger hunt. The first one back with all things on the list wins! Losers have to buy dessert.
7. Go on a Digital Scavenger Hunt
Make it a digital scavenger hunt. Think of some creative, hilarious pictures you could take with people in the community, or check out this list for scavenger hunt ideas.
8. Throw a B.Y.O.E. Party
This stands of Bring Your Own Everything. Guests are encouraged to bring food and drinks to share. Or, check this post out for more frugal party ideas.
9. Have a Bonfire or Campfire in Your Backyard
Make s’mores and play campfire games.
10. Get Ice Cream
Hit up your local ice cream shop and indulge in your favorite dish! Our local Dairy Queen is located right on the lake, which ties in perfect with #2!
(Wise Bread Pick: Lello Gelato Junior Ice Cream Maker at Amazon)
11. Make a Romantic Dinner
Plan a romantic, candlelight dinner for your spouse or loved one. Romance need not be expensive! (See also: Romance on a Dime)
12. Grill Something New
Try a new grilling recipe. Recently I tried chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomatoes! Mmmm!
13. Go to the Museum or Zoo
Many times a local museum will have free or discount days. Zoos are fairly inexpensive if you pack your own lunch and avoid the unnecessary extras.
14. Scan Your Old Photographs
Take the weekend to go through your old photos and scan them into a digital file. You can even create digital scrapbooks! (See also: Save Memories With Cloud Computing)
15. Pretend You’re a Tourist in Your Community
Most folks rarely visit their own city’s tourist attractions. Take a weekend be a tourist in your own town.
16. Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup
Get friends and neighbors together to go and clean up a city block. Here are six steps to organizing your own neighborhood cleanup.
17. Go to the Farmers Market
Communities will usually have farmers markets on the weekends where you can get locally grown produce. The food is fresh and delicious! Here’s a savvy guide to farmers markets.
18. Pick Strawberries or Other Fruit
Find a “U-Pick” spot to gather some fresh strawberries, blueberries, or other fruit and then…
19. Bake a Pie
Use the freshly picked fruit to bake a homemade pie! (Need help with the pie crust?)
20. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Homeless Shelter
Organizations like these are always looking for volunteers. This will be one of the most rewarding things you could do this weekend and can possibly make a difference on your resume! (See also: Translating Volunteer Experiences to Workplace Credentials)
21. Invite Your Neighbors Over
With today’s busy pace, it seems harder to get to know our neighbors. Invite them over for dinner or dessert and make an effort to know more about them.
22. Go Fishing
Grab the poles, find a pond, and cast those lines!
23. Go to the Beach
Hit the sandy shores for a little rest and relaxation. Just don’t forget to protect your skin! (See also: Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Summer)
24. Go to the Library
There are many benefits your local library has to offer besides just books. You can rent movies, page through magazines, or surf the net.
25. Host a Classic Movie Marathon
Invite friends over for a movie marathon featuring all the classics you remember from when you were growing up. Or, host a money movie marathon!
26. Rearrange the Furniture in Your House
My wife and I did this last weekend. I love the new look and feel of our living room now! Rearranging furniture doesn’t cost anything and adds a new flair to your place.
27. Write Out Your Bucket List and Pick One to Do
Brainstorm ideas for all the things you want to do in life, and pick one to do this weekend.
28. Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle
When is the last time you put together a puzzle? Find one you like and get to it.
29. Volunteer to Babysit for Someone Who “Needs a Break”
I know many parents who would love for someone to offer a chance to take a break from the busyness of life. Many single parents hardly ever get a chance to get out and unwind.
30. Clean Out Your Closet and Donate to a Thrift Store
Go through your closets and declutter. Find items you can donate to your local Goodwill or another thrift shop.
31. Watch for Shooting Stars
Go on a star-gazing adventure. Grab a blanket and head to a park to lay and watch the stars. Here’s a meteor shower calendar to help.
32. Go on a Bike Ride
Bike to a location you’ve never been to before. Or, bring your bike to a town or city you’re unfamiliar with and create your own bike tour. Just be safe on your bike! (See also: Bicycle Safety in the City)
33. Take a Free Online Class
There are plenty of free online classes you could take to improve your skills in a certain area. Try your hand at investment classes if that interests you!
34. Write Out Your Life Plan
This one will take some thought but will be well worth it. Here’s a great resource from Michael Hyatt for helping you think through your life plan.
35. Set Three New Goals for Yourself
Related to the life plan is setting three new goals you’d like to accomplish in the new six to twelve months…and write them down!
36. Find a Community Play to Attend
Many local communities offer inexpensive theater productions.
37. Help Someone in Need
Lend a helping hand to a neighbor, co-worker, or friend.
38. Buy Food for the Homeless and Listen to Their Stories
It’s not always wise to give money to a homeless person, but you can buy food. Listen to their stories, and if possible, direct them to an organization that can help.
39. Go Bowling
Get some friends together and have a blast at the lanes!
40. Visit Garage Sales and Look for Deals
Take a friend or two, grab breakfast, and then hit the local garage sales to scan for deals.
41. Tour the Local Fire or Police Station and Thank Them for Their Service
A simple gesture can really mean a lot to the men and women who serve us on a daily basis!
42. Visit a Local Nursing Home and Engage With the Residents
Many elderly folks have great tales to tell. Listen to their stories and see what you can learn from them.
43. Plant a Garden
You can make a garden box or even an herb garden if you don’t have much room. (See also: Small Space Garden Ideas)
44. Go Dancing
Grab a few friends, put those dancing shoes on, and hit the local club.
45. Walk Through the Craft Store and Start an Art Project
Take your spouse or loved one to a craft store and each purchase a few crafts for a creative project. Or start a pine cone project!
46. Host a “Minute to Win It” Party
Invite a few friends over and challenge each other with some creative games based on the hit TV show.
47. Write a Letter to a Family Member You Haven’t Talked to in a While
When is the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? There’s something magical and nostalgic about the written word on paper. Send a letter to someone you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them how much you love them.
Hopefully these ideas are enough to get you started on a fun, cheap, and rewarding weekend!
What cheap, fun things are you planning to do this weekend?