D Sharon Pruitt

D Sharon Pruitt

I began my day waking up early and meeting some friends for a run on the green trail which is one of my favorite places to run. The morning promised a beautiful day with the sun already shining and the heat building, wisps of fog dancing in the fields. I passed at least seven deer grazing while driving to the rendezvous point. One was the identical image of Bambi from the Disney film—it was tiny and had white spots unlike the other older deer wandering the fields. It is moments like that, which I would not have seen if my alarm didn’t wake me at 5:15 to venture out while my family sleeps, that make me feel grateful.

I had a great run with the  aches and pains d’jour not making a fuss and the conversation with friends flowing making the miles fly. I felt peaceful upon arriving home.

First day of summer vacation! The excitement for the fun to start created a frenetic energy that pulsed from my son. He was ready. The “for what” wasn’t planned yet. His sister wasn’t up yet and as the minutes ticked the frenetic energy began to turn into an unsettling grumpiness. When said sister did finally awaken, her surly brother was already waiting to bait and catch. My kids don’t wrestle or  fight physically. They are almost four years apart and that just doesn’t work. Instead they have developed other tactics that hurt—tattling, instigating, put downs. I’m sure these things are happening in every household but none-the-less they drive me bonkers and I just can’t have a summer of taunts, cries and whines. What can be done? Here are some ideas to help stave off the sibling rivalry. I will not hold them as fool proof, but give them a try. Let me know which work best for you and I’ll let you know how things progress here this summer.

If you have children that like to one up or put down their siblings, I found these ideas in the 10-Minute Life Lessons for Kid book.

One tactic to help cut down on put downs is to encourage the offender to say three compliments to the person that has been belittled before being able to continue with the activity that is taking place bringing awareness to the positive qualities of the sibling.

(I have a friend who makes her children pay 5 cents each time they tattle, whine or belittle their siblings. The money goes into a family activity savings jar. I like this idea but my children don’t get allowance yet so this won’t work for us.)

Another interesting activity for a family to do that demonstrates that a person’s love is limitless which may help with jealous siblings is to first give each family member a candle (the braided kind work best). Then mom or dad lights their candle and explains that the flame represents love. Each time you light a different member of the family’s candle discuss the love you felt for them coming into your life. After everyone’s candle is lit, ask these questions:

  • Did my light get smaller as I passed my light to each of you?
  • By giving love (light) to each child, was love taken away from the original child or spouse?
  • Is there more light with everyone’s candle lit than with just mine lit?
  • Do we have enough light as a family to share it with others who might need it — who may be sad or lonely?
  • What happens when all the candles are held together?
  • Does the light shine more brightly as a family or as individuals?

A great book that helps with all kinds of negative behavior is “1-2-3 Magic” by Thomas Phelan. The idea behind this book is that when your child is demonstrating negative behaviors such as whining, back talk, negotiating, sibling fighting you count them for each time the infraction occurs until three. At three there is a consequence. The consequence should be as closely related to the event as possible but taking away privileges works as well. In my house an earlier bedtime hour or reduced tv time are often used as consequences. If used consistently by both parents, this discipline technique really helps.

A final suggestion to temper heated summer moments between children would be to try some partner yoga. Did you actually think that yoga ideas would not be in this post! Partner yoga is a wonderful way to help your children connect and work together. It is fun and often ends in laughter. Partner poses to try can be found in this inspiring book called “Playful Family Yoga for Kids, Parents and Grandparents” by Teressa Asencia. Try these easy poses with your children or have them do them together.

Partner Boat Pose: Each person starts facing each other seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grab ahold of each other’s hands on the outside of your legs while placing the soles of your feet together. Using core strength, lift both feet up and straigten your legs while balancing on your sit bones in boat pose.

Partner Lotus Pose: Starting in the same way as above, grab ahold of each other’s hand on the inside of the legs this time and lift legs up with your feet touching and while balancing on your sit bones.

Sunbathing on a Rock: One person starts in child’s pose. The other person stands at their partner’s feet facing away from their partner. Gently, the standing partner lowers themselves down so their sacrum (lower back) is resting on the sacrum of their partner in child’s pose. The partner on top then drapes their body over their partner so that both of their heads are next to each other. Partners must talk to each other and respect each other. The partner on top then opens their chest up by extending their arms to the sides. When the bottom partner is ready, switch.



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