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Monday, August 01, 2011

Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry

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Keep the Siblings Lose the Rivalry - 10 Steps to Turn Your Kids Into Teammates by Dr. Todd Cartmell

Like most parents having more than one child, I sometimes find myself at a loss as to how to teach my children to resolve their conflicts in a respectful manner.  It's not their arguing that bothers me, but the way in which they handle it that does. 

One day as I was sharing my dilemma with some parents on a forum I participate in, a mother recommended that I read a book titled, Keep the Siblings Lose the Rivalry by Dr. Todd Cartmell.  Being terribly anxious to find a helpful solution (or at least some really good advice), I quickly went to my library in search of this book.

As I read the book, I found myself jotting down a lot of notes.  I couldn't keep up with all of the wonderful tips.  As soon as I was done reading the book, I knew I had to purchase my own copy.  Being that it is Christian-based was an extra plus.

Dr. Cartwell starts off by explaining where sibling problems come from.  He includes topics such as: Temperaments, Differential Treatment, Insufficient Family Time, etc.  I appreciated the conversational examples he included throughout the book.

He goes on to compare the process of raising siblings "who can live and grow together" to that of a garden.  "In order to raise a healthy flower, there are three things you must do.  You must: (1)  Prepare the soil, (2) Plant the seed, and (3) Provide the right environment.

This is followed by 10 steps "that will build your children's living-together skills and can change their sibling relationships forever."  The ten steps are as follows:

  • Create a strong family bond
  • Connect with each child
  • Eliminate comparing, labeling, and competition
  • Require sibling respect
  • Improve sibling communication
  • Step toward solutions
  • Teach sibling survival skills
  • Reinforce positive sibling behavior
  • Use sibling consequences that work
  • Put them on the same team
Under each of these steps, he lays out methods to help your children learn how to be respectful towards each other through their communication, how to connect as a family, problem-solving ideas, five specific survival skills which include: (1) responding to sibling aggravation, (2) sharing, (3) taking turns, (4) being flexible, and (5) forgiving each other.

Each chapter ends with Questions for Reflections, Prayer Suggestions, Practice Makes Perfect (Here he poses questions which you will answer using the techniques you've learned within that chapter.), and Family Time Discussion Guides (love these!).  The latter are "ready-to-use facilitator guides for fun and effective family-time discussions (with your kids) that you can use to teach and practice the important skills discussed in each chapter." 

Last week our family participated in the "Say it the Right Way, Right Away" discussion and after having to smell a stinky (apple cider vinegar soaked) sock (illustrating disrespectful words) compared to clean socks, I can honestly say that they still remember the lesson and have corrected themselves when they are being disrespectful towards each other.

I always notice a change for the positive in my children in how they relate to each other, and a decrease in their time in resolving their conflicts after we've completed one of the activities in this book.  We do these as part of our "family time" together which we've scheduled for Sundays. 

At the author's suggestion, as a family, we put together a list of our family rules following some of the examples from the book.  Today my 5-year-old broke a rule and caught himself.  He quickly pointed to the rule he broke and said, "I know, I broke a rule," and he quickly apologized.

You can use this book in a parenting or study group.  Dr. Cartmell includes a 12-week schedule for this purpose.

If you have read this book, I'd love to hear your opinion about it!  If you haven't, you now know why you should.




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