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Sibling Rivalry & the Green Eyed Monster

Since the beginning of time, siblings have argued, bickered, and squabbled over matters great and small. From petty jealousies through to territorial disputes and on to accusations of favouritism, the list of conflicts is interminable. For children this is a matter of pride and honour; for parents it is a political minefield that needs careful navigation.

You can choose your friends but not your family, and some siblings just don’t get on.

What is going on when your children are at loggerheads?

Here are some top tips on what to do when jealousy takes hold.

Watch, listen and think about what is really happening between your children.

What are they thinking and feeling inside? Is it perhaps, ‘I can’t seem to get your attention until I call my brother rude names’ or ‘why you are so happy about Helen’s dry knickers? Haven’t I done anything to make you pleased today?’

Sometimes, the shouting may be a way of saying they want time away from each other, but they need you to help them make a retreat.

When children are struggling, perhaps at nursery or school, life can seem unbearable if a sibling receives lots of praise.

Children also like to have something special for themselves. Trouble can follow if a sister wants to make a scrapbook just like her brother’s. Although this may be a form of flattery, it doesn’t feel that way to the sibling whose personal territory is being invaded.

It is impossible to treat all your children the same, because they’re individuals with their own personalities. Parents are responsible for treating children fairly and with equal concern and attention. Sometimes our own behaviour quite unwittingly can contribute to a fraught situation between the children.

The most important thing in any relationship is communication. Just slamming doors and screaming at each other rarely helps. Communication is executed in a family in two ways – it can be instigated by parents, or siblings can sort things out among themselves

Sporting Rivalry – The solution that works for many is to make siblings do something as a team – like preparing food or building something. Once that’s achieved, the rivalry becomes pointless…

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Top Tips for Raising Happy Healthy and Contented Children

If you are to raise happy healthy contented & self-confident children you have to put in time and energy yourself. If you try to stick to these simple rules and tips and you won’t go far wrong!

1. Laugh! You may find this silly but laughter and fun are great ways of alleviating stress, which children do suffer from more so in the winter months… wondering how to? Tickles & nose painting are to great places to get started!
2. Exercise. Do it with your children, this means taking part in their adventures at the park, that’s right no more book reading on the park bench!
3. Relax – together. When you are winding down it is important to spend this time together. Winding down is also important for a good nights sleep. If you child struggles to slow down, do it with them – read a book, watch the clouds or just watch the world go by.
4. Be Flexible. Think back to your childhood and how annoying it was to HAVE to do things. Yes it is good to have a routine, but please make it flexible! We all hate rushing around to get things done. Try not to do this, instead break free from the routine and make together time.
5. Listen. Listen to your children. STOP what you are doing and give your attention to them and then they will stop craving your attention for all the wrong reasons. Look you child in the eye and give them a response to their questions that provokes a conversation.
6. Independence over frustration. Allow your child to DO everything that they can (within reason and not compromising their safety). This will prevent those embarrassing moments of frustration.
7. Expectations. Don’t expect too much of your child. Children are like sponges, absorbing lots of information about their world. They are always learning. Be patient and try to understand that their mistakes and accidents are all part of this process. Never make your child feel like a failure, as then they will stop trying to learn at all.
8. Express Yourself. Allow your child plenty of opportunities to express themselves. Painting, Playdough, Plastacine, Free drawing, junk modelling, imaginative play, dancing to all different styles of music. Let your child INDULGE for as long as possible.
9. PRAISE. Never underestimate the value of positive praise. Whenever and wherever DO IT! Make sure you are always specific and glamorous with the praise given to prevent the child from becoming used to hearing a plain ‘well done’.
10. Healthy Eating Top Tips – this is more tricky…..Sitting the whole family down for a meal together can be a challenge. Recent research shows that families who dine together have stronger family bonds. Here are a few top tips for gathering around the table:

Turn off the TV. It may take a little while, but conversation will occur!
Ask the children to help lay the table. Bring the plates and cutlery to the table and let them sort it out into places.
Bring all the food to the table at once. Serve from dishes and platters to the plates.
Try not to get up for refills. Place jugs of water / milk / juice on the table. Try to refill glasses and plates at your seats.
Encourage the children to make their own placemats. These can be favourite magazine cuttings or a self portrait! Take the finished designs to your local stationers and laminate for easy cleaning.
Older children can learn simple napkin origami.
To make life easier when cooking homemade food, double the quantity and freeze half. The convenience of a pre-made meal allows for more quality time, and the family will still enjoy home cooked food.

Top lunch box tip: Help your child look forward to opening their lunch box with a special surprise……. A fresh flower, a placemat, a funny napkin or even a ‘love you’ or ‘joke’ note can help make the box extra special.