No doubt about it, parenting can be hard. And there's no manual! We put our trickiest parenting dilemmas to a professional parenting consultant for guidance. Here's what she had to say...
We all want to be the best parents we can to our kids, but sometimes we feel like we fall short of the mark. How do you handle situations like when siblings fight? How do you talk to your kids when they are disrespectful or acting up (like all kiddos do at one time or another!) We wanted to broaden our toolbox of coping mechanisms for these scenarios, so we can be better prepared when they do pop up. So we decided to put our questions to Tanya Kalush, a parenting consultant and mum-of-four, and ask her to share her insights with us on what to do when the kids are driving you a little crazy.. (we’ve all been there!)
Parenting 101: 3 burning parenting questions answered
1. What do you do when siblings fight, and how can we help our kids to get along?
“There are, and there always will be fights between siblings. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise! In fact, conflicts between siblings are not necessarily a negative factor as it is a natural part of the development of family dynamics.”
Quarrels aren’t all bad, they are natural and offer learning opportunities for everyone
“Quarrels can teach children important skills such as standing up for themselves, sharing and making compromises, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation, problem-solving, awareness of boundaries, and more! You may be surprised to know that studies show this is a significant stage in building a set of negotiation skills.”
As parents, we can learn how to manage quarrels gently yet effectively
“Many mistakes are made in our dealings as parents in quarrels between siblings. Often, a parent tends to want to intervene in quarrels in order to achieve “quiet” in the short term. Often, without even being aware of it, we navigate the quarrel in a way that determines the pattern of behaviour and the “box” we categorise each child in. This can have adverse effects on how children perceive themselves later in life.
During parental counselling, I guide and share techniques to end the quarrel effectively and beneficially, how to approach quarrelling kids in a way that will not box them in a certain “role” in family dynamics, when to intervene, and how to respond and provide tools for children to resolve quarrels on their own.”
2. How do you ensure each of your kids feels equally loved and respected within your family?
“As a family with four little kids, our house is super busy. Sometimes it feels like a madhouse with all kids seeking attention exactly at the same time!”
Firstly, set up some house rules, and stick to them!
“Over the years, we developed a few “house rules” that all of us need to follow. For example, when someone starts talking (no matter his/her age), we respect them and keep quiet until they are done. (I won’t lie, it’s not always so easy for them to be patient…). I believe it all starts with us, parents. Kids have the amazing ability to copy and follow behaviour, positive or negative. If they see the adults being respectful, caring and patient, they’ll try to act the same.”
Book in one on one time with each child, regularly
“I spend 1:1 time with each of my kids on a monthly basis, or more if I sense they need it. Nothing fancy, we can go out for Starbucks, or it can be just a good chat while walking them to one of their activities. We chat on the way, and I listen to all their stories from school, I learn about their day. It’s equally important for the kids and for myself to build that closeness in our relationships.”
3. How do you react when your child says no to you or talks in a disrespectful way?
“When your kids are being disrespectful, the first instinct is to get mad at them, as you feel the anger inside you growing. “How dare you talk to me that way?”
When kids are being disrespectful, the most important thing you can do as a parent is the hardest – stay calm!
“The best option, and probably the hardest when you are furious, is to stay calm. We have to remember that kids tend to provoke, mainly in order to get our attention. Tell them you are very upset, but we will talk about it later. Let things cool down for both sides.”
“Talk to your kid, and tell him/her that we have a set of boundaries in our house, and one of them is to be respectful. Let them explain what happened and why they were so upset. Let them express their feelings. They might have been hungry/tired/or simply had a bad day at school. Give them a big hug. This is exactly what they need now; they need to know we are there for them no matter what.”
Talk and find a resolution together
“After you both calm down, sit with them, talk about what happened, and think together about what you can do to have a better outcome next time. Find a way that both of you can agree on. My personal belief is that delaying the response of action for later works better than responding while we are angry.”
Thanks, Tanya! Find out more about Tanya and her role as a parent consultant via her website.