My kids are frequently hitting each other. What can I do about it?
Most aggression results from a reaction to a toy being taken away or the destruction of what one has built. The basic underlying desire to be the dominant child in an interaction or selfishness is a contributory factor in most conflict situations. This reveals the necessity for teaching children that some toys are personal property to be respected and other toys are property which can be shared.
At first teaching how to share a toy needs adult supervision and you can introduce sharing by saying that one child can play with a toy for 5 minutes and then it is time for the other to spend 5 minutes playing with it. Harder to teach is a cooperative playing with a toy but in the case of a car it can mean shoving the car back and forth between two children along the floor or table top.
When building with blocks one child may want to destroy what was built so it is important to point out that this is unacceptable behavior to do and you must reprimand the offending destructive child.
Being a referee between two children of about the same age is hard enough but if you have three or more of about the same age then you have a handful of conflict on your hands if they all fight with each other. If the kids are all playing in the same room then you could instruct each one to pick a toy to play with and give them a space or corner of the room in which to play in.
When kids seem to be fighting for no reason at all such as pushing or shoving a lot then point out that this kind of behavior is mean and bad and that it shouldn’t be done.
It is not just important to find out who started a fight or who hit first but what was the underlying cause so you can always ask why did you hit your sibling? Sometimes aggression seems justified so you may just inform the victim child that he or she should complain to the parent about the situation. At other times kids may fight for no good reason at all and isolating them from each other for a time may be a possible partial solution. Whatever the situation be firm with a no fighting rule in the house and enforce the no fighting rule with punishment such as isolation for10 minutes or so for the offending aggressive party if you know with certainty who the first offender was.
Orderliness is very important and before bedtime all toys should be put away. Having toy bins with personal toys and shared toys may be one way of organizing a playroom or bedroom. Yes, at first you will have to instruct which toys go into which bins but once you succeed at this then cleanup will be less of a problem. An older child may be asked to show the younger one which toys go into which bins.
When there is an age difference of two or more years then fighting may not be a large problem. You can start teaching responsibility to your older child by asking them to teach the younger child how to do things like drawing, building things, reading to them, or teaching basic math.
A final important note is that you should try to teach or punish children fairly by not showing favoritism towards one child over another. Stress the fact that you love all your children equally and that there is no such thing as a bad child or a good child but merely good and bad behavior. When you get angry tell them that you are angry at the bad behavior and not angry at the child him or herself since you still love them.
How should I handle a situation where my child is being bullied?
Verbal bullying can either be ignored or you can teach your child to defend themselves verbally by responding with simple phrases such as “That’s your opinion not mine.”, “Grow up and act like an adult.”, “Pick on someone else if you want to feel superior.”, “Treat me like shit and I will never be your friend”, “Try being nice to people, you will have more friends.”, “You now have a reputation of being a big bad bully.”, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”, or ”To be respected you must treat others with respect.”
If it is physical bullying such as pushing, shoving, and punching then teaching your child self defense which does not severely injure the opponent may be necessary. Japanese Aikido is one example but Tae Kwon Do is another example where kicking and footwork, feet being the strongest part of the body, is emphasized. You can tell a child to warn the aggressor that if he or she does it again then they will get kicked if it is just a push or a shove. If your child gets punched or physically assaulted then one important key to defense is to trip them to the ground and proceed to kick them and maybe even punch them on the body but not head.
I personally was bullied by an overweight boy slightly shorter than me and I ignored his bullying until one day he pushed me off a fence that I was sitting on and I almost broke my neck. I was so enraged that I tripped him and proceeded to kick him and punch his head while he was on the ground. I slightly hurt my hand by punching his bony head so that was not a smart thing to do but he never bullied me again.
Another personal incident was where we were bragging about who was the strongest, got into a fight and I put him into a choke hold and he pass out and it scared me because I thought that maybe I had killed him. I made a mistake because he was bigger and stronger than me and I avoided him as much as possible after this initial incident for fear of being beaten up. We were never friends after that incident. This is not a bullying incident but just a lesson that fighting is not the best answer to successful conflict resolution and it is certainly not civil behavior.
When and how to talk to children about sex?
When a child is considered too young to understand the sexual act then simply saying that mommy got pregnant, you grew in her belly, and then were born as a baby. If the child is smart enough to ask further questions such as how did I get out of her belly then simply say through the vagina. If the child then asks what a vagina is then say it is an opening in the body between the legs. If the child asks how did mommy get pregnant then say daddy helped her to become pregnant. If the child wants more details then you have a precocious child on your hands who will probably understand further details.
Answers to very young children should be very general and not specific and they will usually be satisfied with the general answer that you give them and stop further questioning. When they ask for more details don’t lie to them but start giving a clinical truthful but brief answer. If you are embarrassed and don’t want to admit that you and mom have sex then show them examples of animals having sex and explain what they are doing.
How can I convince my children that smoking, drinking to excess, and taking drugs is not a smart thing to do?
Be good role model parents. Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, and don’t drink to excess. If you smoke, do drugs, and drink to excess then the probability that your children will have the same handicaps is very great no matter how much you try to scare them out of doing so.
Drinking and driving is the greatest danger so if they are driving your car make it a strict rule that they can only have one or two beers or one or two glasses of wine and then drive. If they get drunk then tell them to call a taxi or get a ride home from a designated driver. Of course if you catch them driving drunk or high on drugs then revoke their driving privileges for a month or longer.
With a very busy schedule, how can I spend adequate time with my kids?
If you have more than one kid then schedule your time with each one of them personally on a regular basis and also schedule time with all of them together on family outings. Keep in mind that quality time is the most important and if you are not spending time teaching your child something new, sharing a skill or activity such as chess, tennis, or computers, encouraging their interests or praising them for good deeds or accomplishments, asking about how his or her day or week went, helping with homework and other tasks, discussing bad behavior, or sharing your work experiences then it is probably mostly wasted time together.
How can you change low selfesteem?
Some children simply don’t do well in school and have few or no friends and generally have a low opinion of themselves or low selfesteem. Your parental expectations may be too high and you may not have motivated the child enough with praise and encouragement for things done well.
Tell your child that not everyone can become an engineer, scientist, computer programmer, doctor, or lawyer and offer them the possibility of becoming proficient in some vocational profession such as a car or motorcycle mechanic, plumber, electrician, police officer, military officer, nurse, teacher, etc.
Every child should have long range goals if possible and selflearning vocational skills during the teenage years may be an ideal way to get a foot in the door and some useful vocational knowledge. Ultimately if your child learns a useful skill that pays relatively well then they should do rather well in life no matter how low their selfesteem.
Selfesteem originates from trying things and doing them successfully. You can insist that they help you with housework and praise them for doing a good job. Introduce them to interesting hobbies which don’t cost much money and generally get them interested in doing things or actively pursuing interests outside of school also. The more active that they are and do things successfully, the more their selfesteem will build up.
Teach them that failure is inevitable in life and the key to overcoming failure is to get up and try again or do something else which you don’t fail at.
What do I do when my child lies or steals?
Lying and stealing are immoral. Lying means that trust is broken and your reputation with others will hit the toilet. You will never have very close good friends or good friends in general if you lie to them. Without trust a relationship ends or is a very bad one.
Steal from someone and trust also breaks down. Not only is stealing immoral but society punishes thieves with prison since it is considered a criminal activity.
From early childhood you should severely stress that lying and stealing is unacceptable and the punishment severe. I caught my thirteen year old son stealing ten dollars from my wallet and proceeded to spank him severely across the butt with my belt in a rage. He never stole from me again.
For older teenagers compulsive stealing is often a sign of some drug habit which needs much money that they don’t have so be wary of a teenager who suddenly starts stealing from you out of the blue. Yes, peer pressure can also lead to stealing and if you find out that this is the case then your child is hanging out with the wrong crowd and you should put a stop to it as soon as possible. Your child must simply learn to say a fervent NO to lying and stealing. Both acts are severe character flaws which good society does not tolerate.
How should I discipline my children?
There is a slight difference in disciplining very young children and older ones but both basically entail taking away a possession for duration or taking away a privilege for duration.
Very young children throwing a tantrum can be disciplined with isolation or removing them physically from the tantrum location and making them sit in isolation in a room or car until they calm down. Ask them whether they are ready to go back and behave is something that you should do before you bring them back to the tantrum location which is sometimes a store or public place.
Warning or threatening your child with a threat of punishment is also a way of controlling bad behavior. Taking away a favorite toy, cellphone, rights to use a computer, right to go out of the home (grounding), etc. for duration is usually very effective but if you threaten a punishment then you should follow through with consistency or your threats will be ignored in the future. Also if you promise a reward or to do something like going to a sporting event or theatrical performance then follow through and fulfill the promise.
Discipline must be consistent, clear, and as close to the misbehavior as possible. Discipline delayed is not as effective and young children especially will forget what they are being punished for with poor results in the end.
How can I help my children form friendships?
If you have good friends yourself then children will learn from your role model example. If you don’t interact with humans that much then teach your children that the best friends are those with common interests in school or near home setting and at about the same age. Teach them not to lie or steal from others so trusting friendly relationships develop.
If your children don’t seem to be interested in much then introduce them to games, hobbies, and sports which they can share with others. Having a bicycle can also increase the range of your child and expose him or her to children farther away in the neighborhood.
How can my children learn to be independent?
Independence means doing things on your own so start early teaching them numbers, words, reading, and math which they will definitely need in school. As soon as possible have them do household chores such as vacuuming, cleaning, food preparation, laundry, yard work, taking out the garbage, etc.
Introduce them as early as possible to games, hobbies, sports, and tools. Teach them your job skills and how to budget money. If it is a suburban neighborhood have them wash cars, mow grass, walk a neighbor’s dog, or do other work suited to teenagers for money. In effect, keep them busy doing useful things on their own and they will learn how to be independent.
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