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How To Handle Your Child's Jealousy

Your child has come home from a sleepover at a friend’s house and seems completely bent out of shape. You try to figure out why so you start asking questions. A flood of emotions reveals that not only does the friend have a beautiful swimming pool and a trampoline, but a skate ramp in their drive way, a huge library of Xbox games and is getting ready to leave on a family trip to Orlando to hit all the amusement parks. Your child is jealous and feeling sad that he doesn’t have some or all of this as well! You start to feel bad and may even want to cheer him up by telling him you might be able to provide some of those things in the future, but it’s important to stay clear from making promises you can’t keep. Instead, the thing to remind yourself is that jealousy is completely normal. Only children often wish they had siblings, or siblings might wish they were only children. One child might wish her grades were as strong as another’s or if you are divorced, your children might be jealous of other two-parent families. It’s bound to be something you will encounter, so learning how to best handle it can help you guide them through the situation in a healthy and stable manner.

The first thing to do is acknowledge their jealous feelings. It’s a natural response and they shouldn’t be punished for having them. Take the time to listen closely to what they are saying. Don’t try to talk them out of it, trivialize the feelings or punish them unless they’ve acted out in an inappropriate way. Keep the conversation going by asking questions like “What is it exactly that is making you so upset?” Then you can help the child put it all in perspective. “It’s not what you own that will make you happy in the long run, but who you are as a person. This means how you treat others like being honest, reliable and compassionate.” Focus on what your child and your family does have instead. “We have our health, you have a room full of books and toys and we will have a great time camping out this summer!”

Aside from material items, another point of contention that often arises is envy of another kid’s talent’s or friend group. Girls often exclude other girls in social circles as a way to intimidate or show their superiority. While it’s normal, it may not feel good and as a parent you can help her cope with the jealous feelings by reinforcing other friendships and being a supportive sounding board. If it’s about a particular talent, focus on what the child is talented in instead. Or, if possible, offer to help your child in this area or through additional training.

Any parent that has more than one child knows that sibling rivalry can rear its ugly head at any time. Early on, a newborn can cause older kids to feel neglected and jealous about all the attention the baby is getting. Or if one child gets more attention from a particular parent, it can cause problems. The best thing to do is help your kids develop conflict resolution skills like how to compromise and be fair to one another. Try to be clear why the one child is getting more attention right now. “Jack has been struggling with Algebra, so your dad has been spending his extra time after work tutoring him. It’s not forever.” You should role model it for them in the way you act and respond to things. “Sometimes I wish that I had a high paying career and big beach house like Aunt Julie does, but then I realize that she doesn’t have a wonderful family like I have because she is always working and traveling for business.”

Help your kids to overcome the negative side of jealousy like anger, hatred, intimidation or feelings of being insufficient and turn these emotions into a positive. Remember that jealous feelings can actually motivate people to shoot for the starts and work hard to get the things they want out of life.

Why Should I Take A Parenting Course?

It seems like this is the week for parenting classes. We received a bunch of calls from people who were either assigned the classes as part of a divorce, or because they were interested to find out how they work online. In almost every conversation, the client would comment that they don’t really need parenting classes; they already know what they are doing. It’s interesting because we readily take classes to learn new skills in school, in our field of work, for sports, cooking or art, but when it comes to one of the most challenging experiences we will face, we are hesitant to take the time. Maybe it’s because it seems intuitive or we can just talk to other parents to get help or there just isn’t another minute in the day to try to get to one more class.

While all this may be true, it’s interesting to consider that the new skills you learn in a few hours of parenting classes can help reduce the amount of time you waste nagging, yelling or fighting with your kids each day. Think about how much time is lost when you try to repeatedly stop a behavior that might be developmentally on target. Or when you try to eliminate the bad behavior by using a technique that just reinforces it. The reality is that parenting is a lifelong journey and learning how to better handle the different ages and stages and understand what is normal behavior to expect, can help you to modify your approach and create a better balanced home.

Parents generally choose to take a parenting class because they are frustrated with how things are going. A good class will help you find positive ways to get along better with your kids or with an ex-spouse. Topics cover how to better listen and communicate with your children, understanding what is appropriate behavior at each age and how to set those boundaries, realistic rewards and consequences for their behavior, how to raise respectful children with high self-esteem, and stress and anger management techniques. Taking the time to take a parenting program forces you to think about what behaviors you would like to change in your kids and exactly how you need to change your own behavior to make this happen.

Parents going through a divorce will often be court mandated to take a co-parenting class. Everyone knows that this is an extremely stressful time and separating parents often don’t get along. To try and help parent’s best deal with the change, these programs cover all of the above topics as well as ways to better communicate with your ex-spouse. This includes ways to avoid misunderstandings, the importance of modeling good behavior in front of the kids, and how to make the transition between two different homes as seamless as possible. In divorce situations it’s important to remember to put the children’s best interests before your own until things have settled down.

Now that you’ve gained some insight into why you should take the classes, consider how you will take them. Parenting classes are available as group sessions or can be taken online. Busy parents often like the online approach because you can purchase the program and take it whenever you have free time from your Wi-Fi connected computer device. This takes away the stress of having to get to a weekly class or finding a babysitter. When you have finished the online program, the client receives a Certificate of Completion in the mail just like they would if they went to an in-person class. It’s an affordable and convenient way to learn the new skills you need.

Teaching Your Child Compassion Helps Prevent Bullying Behavior

Teaching children compassion is an important part of raising a kind, responsible human being and helps them understand how to avoid conflict and work well with others throughout their life. Fostering compassion from an early age is the best way to prevent bullying behavior from ever starting. If it has already taken root, it’s one of the key components young people can learn to change their ways.

There are ways you as a parent or caregiver can encourage compassionate behavior by increasing their awareness of other’s feelings and understanding of the world around them from an early age.

1. Starting in preschool have your child collect coins earmarked for a particular charity. Talk to them about ways they can help other children by donating the money to a particular medical cause or by using the money to make blankets or hats for homeless kids.

2. Role model compassionate behavior because your kids will learn from observing your actions. This means that you should “walk the walk” by saving a stray animal, spending time in their classrooms helping the teacher or by volunteering your time at community events. When age appropriate, get your child involved in volunteering. Have them by your side handing out water to runners in a local marathon, sorting cans at the homeless shelter or spending time at an elderly facility playing games with lonely, older adults. If you have an outdoorsy child, get involved in projects that are designed to clean up the environment or repair hiking trails.

3. Talk about it as an important family value. Explain why you do things to avoid hurting other people’s feelings and provide examples. For example, we don’t pass out birthday invitations at school because we don’t want anyone to feel left out. Think about how you feel when a bunch of your friends are doing something that you weren’t invited to. Or, we don’t cut-off a child that is stuttering to get his words out, but try to patiently listen. He is doing his best and feels bad when he isn’t given the chance to speak.

4. Point out when your child is being kind. “It was nice of you to lend your scooter to your friend when I know you didn’t want to walk. ” “It was thoughtful of you to help carry your brother’s books when his wrist was broken.” The positive reinforcement teaches your child that you value and admire this behavior. Also point out when others aren’t being kind. “The way that Jason laughed at the girl when she tripped was unkind and not the appropriate way to act.”

5. Have your child participate in taking care of family pets. Children who take their dogs for a walk or feed the cat everyday learn empathy, love and responsibility.

5. Set the standards you are looking for. Be clear and provide structure from an early age about what is appropriate behavior and what is unacceptable. Explain that hitting or name calling will never be tolerated and follow through with a firm, age-appropriate punishment from the get go. If you let things slide, children learn that the appropriate behavior isn’t that important.

Giving your child the first hand experience of receiving compassion is a key way to get the point across. When your child comes home complaining about his hard day, listening and telling him that you understand his feelings makes a huge impact. It builds your relationship by opening up communication channels and teaches them how to respond with empathy to another person.

Ideas To Help Plan And Execute A Successful Family Trip

With summertime travel ramping up, we thought it would be a good idea to review some good parenting tips to help the family vacation go as smoothly as possible. Let’s start out by saying that most kids love the adventure of going on a trip. Usually their parents are more relaxed, they get to visit cousins they don’t normally get to see, or locations that are new and interesting. It’s a great feeling to have dad and mom together, totally focused on the moment rather than on work, household chores, making dinner, school or outside intrusions via the phone or social media. It’s a great time to bond and make happy family memories.  However, it takes some planning to execute a successful vacation with the kids. How can you make the most of the time without running into too many meltdowns or irritable behavior?

To start with, it’s best to start talking about the trip well in advance. If it’s to visit family, show them pictures and explain whom they will be seeing. If it’s to a place like Costa Rica or Paris, share travel guides and talk about the sites and activities they can expect to encounter. Let them get involved in the planning process by picking out things they would like to do. For example, we had the kids make a list of all the things they wanted to see during our trip to New York and then formed an itinerary loosely based on this. The strategy helped to reduce whining and complaining because they were the ones who planned the day. It also gave them some structure to help them understand what would be expected of them. If the kids are young, try not to plan too many different things in one day. It’s hard for children to make transitions and it can be exhausting to them. It will only contribute to tantrums so add in extra time for getting ready or resting during the day.

In the week prior to the trip, begin explaining to the kids about how you expect them to behave. For example, no bringing electronics into Aunt Kathy’s reunion party or playing keep away on busy city streets. While you are on the trip, catch them while they are being appropriate and thoughtful and praise them for the positive behavior.

Try to stick to bedtimes and plan for enough rest. Being tired is one of the major reasons for unruly behavior. If you have a baby or toddler, try to schedule downtime in the hotel room everyday for a consistent nap. If you have a child that won’t take a nap in a different crib, plan on going for a long walk with the child in the stroller at the same time each afternoon.

If you are taking a drive for more than 6 hours, plan ahead. To help avoid fighting amongst siblings, boredom and general crankiness, stock the car with videos, fun music, snacks and games. On a recent trip, we played the game of Life on the IPad for at least an hour. We passed it around so each person could take a turn and laughed about the different scenarios. Of course, there are always the old go-to games like looking for out of state license plates or different landmarks along the road. Also, bring pillows and blankets for more comfortable naps and break up the trip with stops to run around and stretch.

Practical Parenting Tips To Reduce Stress During Summer Vacation

For some parents, the relaxing, warm days of summer are actually a more stressful time of year. If you work, you now have to find ways to keep your kids safe and entertained until you can take some time off. While it’s nice to let go of the school year’s early morning schedule and rushing to after school activities, a week or two into no structure and things sometimes start to unravel. The novelty of no commitments, sleeping in and all the freedom begins to wear off and the kids start to complain. “I’m bored” or “What are we doing today?” get old fast and by the beginning of August, you are counting down the days until the new school year begins.

So for parents across the country who are embarking on family vacations, staying at home to enjoy local beaches or lakes, or are trying to juggle work and camps, here are some practical parenting tips to keep in mind for reducing your stress and anger level:

1. Walk away. When you get to the point in which you can’t take another moment of your kids bickering, complaining or otherwise irritating behavior, take your mind off the situation by removing yourself from the scene. Take a short walk around the block, go for a run, or just leave the room before you react in an angry or bitter way.

2. Set limits. Initially it sounds fun to do away with the regular schedules and routines, but after a week of staying up late, your kids are bound to start coming undone. Maybe move bedtime to a ½ hour or hour later, but continue to enforce the boundary for everyone’s sanity. Remember you are the responsible adult and it’s okay to say “no” to your kids in a friendly, but firm way.

3. Choose your battles. Stop yourself from arguing every time someone disagrees with you or isn’t acting the way you would like. Avoid fighting over every little thing and save it for when it really matters. For example, your child’s room is a mess and he or she is playing video games. Instead of fighting about it day after day, close the door or start a reward system. If you are constantly nagging and yelling, they will start tuning you out.

4. Don’t overbook yourself and the family. You finally have free time with the kids and want to pack in all the fun things you couldn’t do during the school year. You also want them to go to sports clinics, and academic refresher classes. Remember this is their time to unwind too and if you get them up early to go a soccer camp and then on to a swim lesson and then on to a keyboarding class, although it’s all fun, exhaustion will settle in and the quality of summer life will start to debilitate.

5. Take control of things you can. If you work long hours during the fall, winter and spring months, ask your boss for some time off. If your spouse is home more during this time of year, ask him or her to pitch in more. This is the time to speak up to create as stress free of a summer as possible.