Author Archives: Kelsey Chomik

Breakthrough the Fair vs. Unfair Battle with Your Kids

Two of the most common transitions during the day that result in sibling rivalry and a battle between what is perceived as fair vs. unfair are getting ready for the day to begin and when it is time for bed. Children’s concepts of fairness tend to evolve over time. Around three to four years old children think in a way that is similar to I want and if I don’t get then it is unfair. Around seven to eleven years old children tend to think that equality always is what is fair. They have similar thoughts of if my friend Lacey got a new toy then I deserve to get one too and if I don’t then it is unfair. Around middle school age is when children start to develop a “big picture” approach to fairness, knowing that sometimes a person may get something that they want, but life has a way of working itself out and at some point they will get something that someone else wants. Waiting for your child to come to a place of understanding of how life works in regards to fair vs. unfair can be exhausting and defeating for parents, but the good news is that there are ways to make this easier on you. Follow these simple tips to help you during the fair vs. unfair battle with your child:

  1. Explain yourself – Walk them through your logic. This may not immediately calm your child, but it is important for them to hear that there are different perspectives of the situation at hand. Rather than saying the tempting response of “Because I said so” or “This is how it is going to be”, respond to them with empathy showing that you understand their feelings while still explaining why you are doing what you are doing.
  2. Point out what is really important – As adults we understand that fair does not always mean identical. Look at the big picture to find your child’s need behind the battle of fair vs. unfair and try addressing this need instead. For example, if the battle is over your attention it may be helpful to acknowledge that they will both get “mommy time”.
  3. Listen to their feelings and express understanding – Very few things feel better than feeling validated for our experiences, no matter how old we are. Adjust yourself to get on your child’s eye level and give them your full attention. Instead of immediately jumping to solve the problem at hand try reflecting emotions that they are experiencing. For example, “I can see that you are sad because you wanted the toy first.” Pause. The key is the pause. This type of response portrays to your child that you empathize with them, understand where they are coming from, and are willing to sit with them in that emotion.
  4. Bounce it back to them – Encourage siblings to come up with a solution themselves. Not only does this give the parents an opportunity to be the observer rather than the conductor, which can be refreshing at times, siblings also tend to stick to this solution more because it is an idea that they came up with themselves. Allowing your children to come up with their own personalized solution to the issue at hand also increases their ability to compromise and empathize with another person, which are important social skills.
  5. End the conversation if necessary – If the conversation is unhealthy, but continuing you have the right to walk away from it and take a “time out”. It is important to objectively look at the conversation and gauge if the conversation is beneficial for all parties that are participating. If a “time out” is necessary, it is important to return to talking about the issue after the “time out” when it would foster a healthy conversation and closure about the topic being discussed.
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Overcoming Parenting Guilt

Kaylin is the proud mother of a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Kaylin is a first grade school teacher and rarely takes time for herself in her busy schedule. Kaylin planned a morning outing where she was going to stop by her favorite coffee shop that she hadn’t been to in months and then get a pedicure to help her relax.

As Kaylin was planning her morning outing she begins to worry about leaving her husband with the kids at home alone, even though he insisted that she take the time for herself. She then starts to tend to everything that needs to be done at the house. As Kaylin is rushing around the house Kaylin starts to regret planning this morning outing because she feels like even taking an hour to do something nice for herself would throw off her entire schedule for the day. She thinks to herself I don’t really need this time to myself. I am needed more here.

Chances are you too have experienced some sort of this self-care guilt like Kaylin. It is natural, especially since we are constantly pushed and praised in our society to be selfless and to be the most involved parent ever. But when does being selfless go too far to a point where you are no longer taking care of yourself at all? Making time for self-care without self-guilt or the endless list of excuses can feel impossible at times.

Recognizing the guilt and anxiety you feel about taking care of yourself is the easy part. Letting go of it is the hard part. The to do lists may overrule your mind making you feel like you don’t deserve self-care in that moment. You may think I can go without it this week. It’s not a big deal. We continue to give and give and eventually we begin to feel burned out. We may even start to resent family, work, or your daily routines. But how do we let go of the self-care guilt? Awareness. It may not be ideal, but reminding yourself of what happens when you don’t take care of yourself can put the importance of taking time for yourself in perspective. Think to yourself how low you are ranking on your own priority list. Are you pleased with that ranking? Does something need to change? Show yourself the same kindness and compassion that you show others by taking care of yourself so you are better able to take care of those that mean the most to you. Remind yourself daily that you are worth it!

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Creating Positive Experiences when Kids have Sibling Rivalry

Creating positive experiences for their children is something a lot of parents’ desire and strive for but it can be difficult when it feels like children are fighting with one another.

What parents sometimes do not recognize is their power as parents. A healthy parental attitude can not only minimize sibling rivalry, but it can also encourage positive experiences for siblings. I want to discuss parenting tips to help reduce sibling rivalry and how you can create positive experiences for your children in your everyday life.

  1. Expect many episodes of sibling conflict – Conflict is normal and is bound to happen. Do not set unrealistic goals for family harmony and do not blame yourself when conflicts occur. If you work to have this mindset as the parent you will be able to react calmer when conflicts do arise.
  2. Do not take sides – When your children are in an argument listen to both children, but do not take sides. Support your children in resolving their disputes by reflecting each child’s thoughts and feelings out loud. It is important for your children to not feel like you are siding with their sibling over them.
  3. Avoid expressing sibling comparisons – When brothers or sisters perceive sibling comparisons being made by parents their brothers and sisters automatically become the enemy rather than their teammate. Try reframing your thoughts and words to appreciating the differences and valuing the uniqueness in each family member.
  4. Empathy – Encourage children to develop a sense of empathy and a respect for how their siblings feel. Empathy is often described as walking in someone else’s shoes. Help your child understand others in this way by asking your child what do you think they think or feel right now.
  5. Teach problem solving – Focus on teaching your children healthy ways to work out conflicts. Let your children know that you believe that they can be creative about finding solutions to problems with their brothers and sisters. Let you children lead and try being the observer.
  6. Do not force children to be friends with their siblings – This may come in time when they are ready and through their own desires. It will mean more to them when they make this choice for themselves. However, in the meantime, you can insist that they treat each other respectfully.

 

I hope that these six tips will help minimize sibling rivalry and create positive experiences for your children to bond and grow in their relationship with one another.

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3 Reminders on How to Handle Sibling Rivalry

Avoid rescuing – We sometimes mistake conflict as being something “bad” and something that we should try to avoid. We must remember that not all conflict is bad and instead think of it as an opportunity for growth. It is extremely powerful to not step in and allow your children to resolve conflicts on their own so they learn these necessary social skills of empathizing with another person and compromising in order to get their needs met.

 

Be aware of what is going on for you internally – Maybe you more closely identify with your child that is a bit shy. You may remember getting picked on when you were younger for being shy. When you see that your child that is more shy getting picked on by your child that is more extroverted you become hypersensitive in your reaction because it hits close to your heart. This is a natural and understandable reaction. However, I am challenging you to first reflect on your thoughts before reacting in this situation. Think what is going on for me internally? Am I triggered to have a certain response based off of my past experiences? Why do I feel an urge to step in more now than in other situations when my children are fighting? Being aware of your own “stuff” is an important part of parenting because it allows the child to have their own life experiences and encourages independence.

 

Take care of yourself – Mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, exercising, various hobbies, and disengaging when unhealthy interactions are occurring all protect parents from burn out or reacting in a negative way toward your children when they are fighting. If you take care of yourself then you are more likely to be able to respond to sibling conflict in a healthy manner because you will feel calm yourself. Try out these techniques when your children are not fighting and see what makes you feel the most relaxed and then try using the technique again when you are feeling stressed, even if it is just for a few minutes. This small amount of time can make a big difference when it comes to your reaction to sibling conflict in your home.

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