Guest Post by Scott Reddler
Parents and kids will often not see eye-to-eye. While a child might want “five more minutes” before bed, parents want the lights out and eyes closed. Parenting can be a tough battle of wits. And the direction that most parents eventually follow is to learn how to pick your battles!
Age and development impact how a child will handle a given situation. We often hear about the ‘terrible twos,’ which often coincide with a toddler’s emergence into independence. According to Parents writer Erin Smith, “toddlers often get frazzled because they do not possess the language skills to express their feelings.”Essentially, your child is melting down as a way to express their frustration of not being able to make their needs or wants (or demands!) clearly understood.
Older kids, however, might push limits to test the waters…and see how far they can go without consequence. If parents give in to demands or manipulation tactics, kids quickly realize that these methods are a surefire way to get what they want.
However, while boundaries need to be set and consequences for misbehavior must be enacted, parents also need to be able to see their child’s point of view during certain situations. Not all misbehaviors are what they seem, and sometimes talking to kids might lead parents to discover underlying issues.
If a child feels that he or she has been misunderstood—or treated unfairly—parents may want to listen to the child’s side and hear their explanation. According to Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, in an article for PsychCentral, “the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.” While this might not change the outcome—or the punishment—listening to a child shows them that their voice is valued.
Sibling rivalry is one of the most common issues that parents face with kids. Unfortunately, many parents feel that fights between their children require their intervention…but in this case, experts advise that parents shouldn’t sit down to judge who is right or wrong. Quarrels may put parents in the middle of an argument; however, this is the ideal time to help kids learn to work out their own disputes.
Kidshealth.org advises parents to handle disagreements between siblings by only stepping in as needed—that is, if the argument is getting a little too heated. By intervening too often, the site states that “there’s also the risk that you — inadvertently — make it appear to one child that another is always being “protected,” which could foster even more resentment.”
Children—including siblings—have different personalities. Whether parents claim these differences are due to star signs, moon phases during birth or just genetics, these differences affect the way kids react to disagreements and also plays a part into the kids they befriend—or avoid. Siblings will have conflicts, but how parents handle these conflicts impacts the relationship siblings have with each other.
While parents should value their child’s voice—and opinions—not all disagreements (especially those between siblings) warrant intervention. Kids need to know how to handle disputes with siblings, and parents should only step in if things become too heated. But, at that point, the call to action is separating kids so that tempers calm down. In individual situations with a child, parents may want to engage their child to listen to his or her side of the story. Although, this discussion doesn’t mean that consequences should be altered (unless, of course, the discussion reveals a complete misunderstanding). As with all child-rearing discussions, however, parents know their children best…and ultimately how a parent handles sibling rivalry or other disputes is entirely a personal decision.
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*Photos courtesy of Scott Reddler