Welcome to Catherine Gruener\’s Encouragement Parenting Tips for June! Each month, WU World Changer Catherine Gruener will share new tips that will encourage you to learn new, positive parenting techniques!
It’s Summer! The kids are out of school.
Warm weather, lemonade stands, the pool, beaches, vacations, snow cones, watermelon, BBQs, staying up late, no schedule… freedom!
That doesn’t mean we don’t have summertime parent struggles.
#1 Summer Parenting Struggle: Sibling Fighting.
The kids are now together…. all the time. And, seems like the more they are together, the more they argue, pick on one another, or generally annoy each other.
Here is a quick and easy tool to use to stop some of the sibling fighting: Bugs and Wishes.
“It bugs me when ‘…’ and I wish ‘…’ ”
We support children in expressing minor irritations before they pile up. Think about what you have done in the past when you have let minor irritations pile up. You know, like the time you went ballistic about a dirty dish in the sink and made a proclamation that you are going to put a lock on all the dishes in the house and people will have to use their hands to eat from now on.
Or maybe the time you reverted to passive-aggressive tactics of leaving the dish in the sink, piling up more in the sink, dreaming about the dishes growing mold, and the perpetrator becoming so disgusted that they magically start doing their dishes. Maybe you yelled at innocent family members, went and complained to a friend, or told your spouse asking them to take care of it. Throwing fits, getting sneaky, getting revenge, yelling, attacking others, complaining and tattling. Any of this sound familiar?
You got it. All the problem behaviors your children might be doing to one another when they spend too much time together.
Quick Tip on Word Usage:
- Use Action Words.
- Be Specific.
- No Name Calling.
- Use Respectful Language.
Good Bugs and Wishes:
- “It bugs me when you take the toy I am playing with. I wish you would give it back.”
- “It bugs me when you poke me. I wish that you would please stop.”
- “It bugs me when you follow me around all day. I wish that you would ask Mom to set up a playdate for you with one of your friends.”
Not-So-Good Bugs and Wishes:
- “It bugs me that you always take my stuff. I wish you would disappear.”
- “You bug me.”
- “It bugs me to be with you, go away.”
The bug and the wish need to be specific to the immediate incident. The solution needs to be specific, doable, responsible, and respectable. It takes practice.
Teaching your Children:
- Use props. I personally use a stuffed ladybug or a light up spider and a magic wand.
- Explain to your children that from now on, you all are going to use ‘Bugs and Wishes’ when something or someone is bugging them.
- Give them an example using one of the not so good, and one of the good word usages above. Use humor. Make them laugh.
- Then, have them practice saying a bug and wish, right then and there. Support them and re-direct them to using action words, being specific, and using respectful language.
If they cannot think of a responsible and respectful solution, we need to work more on finding solutions.
If they say they cannot think of a responsible and respectful solution, offer 2 viable solutions and ask them to decide upon one of the solutions that you suggested. If they choose not to use one of your solutions, then respectfully say “ok, things will stay the same until either we choose one of the 2 solutions or come up with another one that is responsible and respectful,” and disengage.
Here\’s hoping that you have lots of bugs and wishes throughout June.
See you next month for my Encouragement Parenting Tips for July!
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Catherine Gruener, LCPC, NCC, DCC, PDTC. Catherine is a multi-certified and licensed clinical professional counselor, nationally and internationally known for her parent training programs. She is the owner of Gruener Consulting and the Chief Executive Officer of the Encouragement Parenting Division.