Friday, January 15, 2016

Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings: Chapter 8

This is my last (and so very late!) entry in the NPN roundtable about Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham. The final section is all about welcoming new babies and we're never, ever doing that again. So I'm going to call this book a GREAT read for parents and move on. If, however, you are planning to introduce new babies into your home then you should by all means read section 3. 

Chapter 8 is all about Tools to Prevent Rivalry and Nurture Bonding, and it's just as thorough as the other chapters. 

Dr. Markham says that we need to set expectations that our children value each other as human beings and she gives some tips on how to foster that environment and create positive interactions with your children and then suggests having them form a sibling team.

 (Wonder Twins! Activate! No? Ok.) 

On page 185, Dr. Markham says it is important to expect your children to value each other. 

"This is not forced positivity...But if we can hold the expectation that as a family we will always work things out with each other, that we deeply value our relationships with each other, that siblings have a unique bond that is to be treasured and protected, then we'll transmit that assumption to our children. How?
 1) Celebrate family, which includes siblings
 2) Explicitly teach values
 3) Explicitly teach emotional intelligence
 4) Honor individuality and celebrate differences
 5) Create a "sibling book" to help your children see their relationship properly
 6) Talk about how lucky your children are to have each other." - pp185-187 (I have  obviously truncated her list - she goes into greater detail in the chapter.) 
December 2014, establishing expectations for curious boys.

Her next list (pp194-196) focuses on how to create  more positive interactions with your children and the first thing she says: 

"1) Notice and promote the activities that get your children playing together." 
December 2015, expectations established, so the fun can just flow.

I stopped and made a note: LEGOs. (Well, ok, LEGOs and gingerbread houses and puzzles and running around the backyard like...Backyardigans. I am not unaware of how well my sons get along and how lucky we are that they have such an easy relationship.) But mostly, I thought of LEGO. LEGOs are an awesome way of having a project that they can work on together - everyone can express themselves and still contribute. There are no winners or losers, you can treat it as special time or it can be regular ol' play time (or math time). The possibilities are as endless as Pinterest is wide.

His job is to help Daddy. He takes it very seriously.

My suggestion, especially with little ones, is to start with a kit and clear expectations that the parents are driving the show. Then give each child a job and start building. Once you've established the routine of building and the expectation that it's a collaboration - even one in which people are working individually toward a common goal - the competition eases and the fun shines through.

He's a sorting fiend.
A few pages later, I stopped at this passage and again wrote "LEGOs!"

"Strategies to Create a Sibling Team:
 1) Begin creating a team feeling by including both [or all] children.
 2) Instead of pitting children against each other, find ongoing ways to unite them in the    same mission
 3) Promote the idea of a sibling team
 4) Put your kids in charge of a project together." - pp 196-198
Sometimes they get distracted - we have a Christmas movie on for ambiance.

They will have plenty of opportunities for friendly competition as they grow up, but unless they have a solid foundation of camaraderie, rarely will those competitions stay friendly. Even if LEGOs aren't your jam, any other project-type activity could work. If you're a gardening family, you could put the kids in charge of their own plot. If you're bakers, they could be in charge of the bread. If you're artists, they get their own canvasses - as long as the stakes are low and the fun is high...the possibilities are endless!

Play breaks are encouraged. 

(PS: this is not even remotely a sponsored post, we just do the new release of their Christmas village every year as one of our most favorite traditions, and I was reading this while we were looking forward to see where I'm going with this)

If you have a little one on that way, I feel confident that you will find a lot of helpful information in the last section of the book....but I am finished having little ones on the way, so I'm going to skip it. Happy reading!

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