calming activities: 2 Articles

Managing Sibling Conflict

All siblings get into conflicts at some point. In fact, conflict between siblings offers a crucial opportunity for children to build their interpersonal skills, such as learning to share, compromise, and disagree respectfully. Yet knowing that sibling conflict is expected and even helpful does not typically make it easier for parents to manage day to day! This is compounded during times of intense stress such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the many challenges parents are currently facing, there is much parents can do to manage and reduce sibling conflict, both during the current pandemic and in general. Read on for some easy-to-implement tips.  Set Expectations A helpful first step to manage sibling conflict is to establish family rules so that everyone knows what is and is not acceptable. These rules may look somewhat different during COVID-19 when the whole family is at home. Find some calm moments to think through guidelines around how you want your family members to treat each other. Try to phrase these rules positively. In other words, state what you want family members to do (e.g., “speak kindly”) rather than what you do not want them to do (e.g., “no name calling”). By phrasing the rules positively, kids are better able to understand what they are supposed to do.  Once the adults have agreed on the non-negotiable rules, include your children in the discussion. Ask them what rules they think should be in place to ensure everyone in the family feels safe and respected. Consider making a family “contract” which the children can sign, help decorate and chose where to hang it in your home.  Go Step by Step  The ultimate goal is for your children to resolve conflicts as independently as possible. However, children initially need more support from parents to learn how to do this. When you intervene, do your best to remain calm and neutral. Doing so models for your children that it is possible to stay calm during emotionally charged moments. It can be helpful to follow these steps: Call a “time out.” Ask your children to separate and each use a coping skill such a belly breathing. When each child has calmed down, they can come back together.  If they are still upset, they can share their feelings using “I statements” in which they state how they feel and why. For example, “I feel angry when you take my toy without asking.” Next, they can generate potential solutions to the conflict. In the beginning, you will likely need to offer some ideas as well.  Finally, they should choose a solution to try. They can check back in with each other to see how the solution worked out and if they are both satisfied. If they are not, they should choose another solution to try.  Always be on the lookout for opportunities to give your children more problem-solving responsibilities. This helps prepare them to solve conflicts independently in the future. For example, while you may call a time out and ask

Read More
Managing Sibling Conflict 2020-05-08T15:06:35-04:00
Mom and son smiling at one another

The Power of the Pause: Helping Your Child Learn About Mindfulness in This Stressful Time

Families all over the world are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. As we all practice social distancing, our daily routines have been disrupted. While this is stressful, it also provides an opportunity to slow down, to pause, and learn new coping strategies. The post below explores the power of the "pause" and provides tips for helping your child learn about mindfulness. Now is a great time to practice mindfulness together. For children and teenagers, learning how to take a pause requires practice and support from adults, just like learning to play an instrument or ride a bicycle. We want to encourage them to pause so they can catch their breath; be in the moment; experience what they are thinking, feeling, and doing; and regulate their emotions and behavior. Read on for some helpful tips for teaching mindfulness to children and teens. Be Patient Children—especially young children—may initially become frustrated when learning to take a pause. Your patience with them will help them feel more confident about relying on taking a pause when things get difficult. Be aware that children may give up easily or make negative statements like “This is boring!” “Why do I have to do this?” or “I feel silly!” If your child says such things, don’t dismiss her. Acknowledge her feelings and tell her that taking pauses might seem strange in the beginning. Focus on the effort made by your child and the positive results that come from engaging in mindful pausing. The more your child practices taking pauses, the more comfort and success she will experience. Have her choose a pause that she enjoys or one that has worked for her before. Your attitude about taking a pause is key to her success, as well. Encourage her to practice, and practice together. After all, pauses are good for everyone! Acknowledge Differences Some children and teens may have an easier time pausing than others. The pauses you use should be based on your child’s age and developmental level. Children with certain clinical issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or problems with impulse control, emotional regulation, executive functioning, depression, or anxiety may have more difficulty slowing down to pause, even while they have a greater need for taking pauses in their daily lives. Learning to successfully pause and be mindful may greatly impact a child or teen’s overall emotional and behavioral functioning. Know When to Pause Anytime is a good time to take a pause! Initially, however, it’s a good idea to introduce pauses when your child is calm. He will be much more focused and compliant, and more likely to be successful. If you try to teach a pause when your child is already upset, he may not be able to properly process what you are trying to teach him. Be aware of the emotional and behavioral triggers in your child. For example, if your child struggles with homework, remind him ahead of time about taking a pause or two. If he starts to get

Read More
The Power of the Pause: Helping Your Child Learn About Mindfulness in This Stressful Time 2020-04-01T19:40:22-04:00