Helping Same Sex Siblings Get Along

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Sibling fighting is one of the biggest complaints of parents and caregivers alike. Siblings, especially same sex ones, seem to know how to push each other buttons. Here are some tips to help your kids stop fighting.

  1. Set clear boundaries. Often, parents send the message that sibling fighting is a normal part of the relationship, so it’s also an acceptable part of the relationship. It’s up to you to let your children know that although disagreeing is a part of every relationship, you expect them to take action to solve those disagreements. Your expectations will set the stage for how siblings treat each other and how they work together to solve their conflicts.
  2. Teach problem solving skills from a very young age. Kids are naturally problem solvers because they’re naturally creative thinkers. By giving your children a framework for problem solving and teaching them real world skills, you can help them learn to solve their own conflicts with siblings. Teach them how to identify and name their own feelings so they have the vocabulary needed when talking about how they feel and what they want. Encourage them to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective and imagine how the other person thinks and feels. Model brainstorming several solutions for a problem and show them that if one doesn’t work, you have the option of moving onto another solution until you do find one that works. These problem solving skills require a lot of patience and practice, but they will serve your children in every relationship they’re in.
  3. Let your kids solve their own problems. It’s natural to want to jump in and solve the sibling squabbling yourself. Chances are you know exactly what needs to be done and it would be quicker and easier for you to do it than to wait for your kids to figure it out themselves. However, when you intervene, you’re not giving your children the chance to practice the problem solving skills you’ve been teaching them. You’re also sending the message that they’re not responsible for their problems. Instead, step back and let them find a solution on their own. They probably won’t get it right on the first try, and that’s OK. The goal is to give them the space to learn how to get along by themselves.
  4. Don’t play favorites. In many situations, one sibling often seems like the instigator. He’s the one who teases, who hits, who takes things without permission and who does other things that drive his brother crazy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of siding with the “victim’ sibling and ganging up against the instigator. However, that will only increase the tension between the siblings and will often cause anger and resentment to build up. The result, of course, is more problems between the brothers. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. Give both children the benefit of the doubt and focus your attention on solving the issue and moving forward, not on who’s to blame.
  5. Don’t get stuck on the ideal of fair. Of course, you should try to be as fair as possible with your children. But the reality is that life isn’t always fair. When you’re cutting up the cake, one piece may be bigger than another. Because your schedule is different from day to day, your five-year-old’s play date may have to end 30 minutes earlier than your seven-year-old’s play date. If you allow yourself to get caught up in the idea that you’re responsible for balancing out those things somehow, you will be caught in a never ending cycle of trying to make things up to your children. It will drive you nuts and it will give your children unrealistic expectations as to how things really work. Instead, take the stand that sometimes you get the bigger piece and sometimes you get the smaller piece. Let your child work through his feelings about the unfairness of it all without feeling like you have to fix it for him.
  6. Stress the importance of the sibling relationship. From the child’s perspective, a sibling can seem more like a curse than a blessing, especially if the relationship is a difficult one. Of course, that changes with time and circumstances. Older kids learn that a brother or sister, even one they fight with often, holds a special place in their hearts. If you have siblings, model the type of relationship you want your children to have. Talk to them about the special role that siblings play in their life. Let them know that family, even when they drive you crazy, is irreplaceable.


Think about it:





(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting,

The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999)

You don’t have to give up dining out, and you don’t have to skip a date night if the babysitter cancels. There are ways to teach children how to behave appropriately in a restaurant so that it is a fun evening out for everyone in the family.

Children can be both excited and bored when at a restaurant. They can find it difficult to sit in one place for the length of time necessary to order, wait, eat, and pay for the meal. This problem is one that improves with age, development and practice. With a good game plan, you can help your children learn how to behave appropriately in a restaurant so that you can all enjoy the experience.

Pick the right restaurant.

Teach restaurant manners at home.

Have longer sit-down meals at home.

Dine out at your regular meal time.

Review your restaurant rules before you go.

Ask for an immediate appetizer.

Prevent boredom.

Don’t imagine that eating out with kids is the same as dining without them.

Don’t stay too long after eating.

Don’t make the kids eat what they don’t like.

 Don’t stay if you’re not having fun.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Discipline Solution (McGraw-Hill 2007)

by Elizabeth Pantley

One of the hottest parenting trends today is giving children language instruction beyond that of their primary, native tongue. Because speaking more than one language can be beneficial academically, can affect the college admissions process, and can help determine a child’s career trajectory upon reaching adulthood, parents are more determined than ever to help their kids reach bilingual goals. There are several methods for boosting kids’ linguistic aptitude; here are five of the most popular right now.



Sign Language

One Parent, One Language

Accelerated Integrated Method

The most effective method of teaching a child to speak more than one language is the one that suits her individual needs; just as no two children are exactly alike, no two language instruction programs will have the same level of effectiveness. In today’s increasingly global economy and a “shrinking” world of connectivity with fellow humans around the globe, the ability to comfortably and confidently speak at least one language apart from English can give students and young adults a considerable competitive edge over her peers and, later, her coworkers. Whichever method that you choose, it’s important to be fully committed to helping your child master her second language, as she will require the support and assistance of her parents and caregivers in order to absorb and retain it.

Guest Blog Post Written by:

by Tim Seldin President, The Montessori Foundation Chair, The International Montessori Council

As parents we often feel the need to direct our children, but Montessori believed we should follow them instead. How much time do you spend watching your child? I don’t mean watching half-heartedly while you are doing something else. I mean focusing your attention completely on your child for an extended period. There is no better way to begin using Montessori’s principles in your home than by sitting back and observing what your child is looking at, what he says, and what he does. Children have so much to teach us about their needs and interests if we will only take the time to pay attention.

How to observe

What to observe

As you observe, think twice before you interfere with your child’s activity. Your goal in this exercise is to learn from what he is doing, not to keep jumping up and correcting him.

You are welcome to reprint this article on your website or in your newspaper or newsletter, provided that you reprint the entire article, including the complete byline with author’s name and book title.

Please also send a link or copy to

Thank you.




Written By Marcie Paige

We are told early on “babies cry a lot… it’s normal and healthy”.

I think when our parents tell us this it’s their way to preparing us for the fact that having a baby is exciting, life changing but also hard work and at times… frustrating!

While I’m sure it’s true for healthy babies to cry, lets be honest, most babies cry way more then what is considered a ‘healthy amount’.

Here is a little tidbit of info we now know to be true (that our parents may not have known!).

When our baby is crying they are communicating… “hey, look at me… I need something and I want you to figure it out!”

It can be very frustrating for you and your baby having to play the guessing game and it takes longer then it should to sooth your baby when you’re using trial and error to solve the problem.

A common misconception is that babies lack the understanding of language.

Babies and toddlers understand way more then they can say. The only skill your child lacks is the verbal skills needed to communicate in the traditional way.

What if I told you your 9 month old could express preference to ‘milk’, ‘water’ and ‘juice’, or that your 18 month old could tell you they need a ‘diaper change’. Does this sound too good to be true?

You do not need to learn how to ‘read minds’ or learn some magic trick for reading body language. Your baby can express what they want in a way that is easy for you to understand through sign language for babies.

With the use of strategically chosen hand signs, your child can communicate needs and wants without having to cry or throw a tantrum to get your attention!

The main advantage of using baby sign language is the lack of frustration your baby will experience from not being able to communicate what they need and want.

One story I like to share with other moms is when my daughter was 18 months old. She was pointing up to the counter and asking for something but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

I looked on the counter and I didn’t see anything that she could possible want. I asked her to repeat herself several times but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t decipher her gibberish.

I told her “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you want.”

She then signed ‘BREAD’.

I was shocked. I would never have guessed that what she wanted was a plain old piece of bread.

Problem solved. No crying or temper tantrum!

If she hadn’t been able to sign it, I wouldn’t have figured it out quickly and we both would have ended up frustrated and upset.

There are other benefits with sign language for babies as well…

Every time you sign with your baby, you re-enforce the sign with the sound of the word. This helps your baby make a connection between sounds and sign.

It wasn’t until my daughter was 2 years old, with a signing vocabulary of 100+, that I realized how much I would have missed out on if she didn’t sign to me.

Sign language for babies is the smartest and most effective communication technique for you and your pre-verbal baby.

Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to loose, and you’ll build a stronger bond with your baby then you ever thought possible.


Marcie Paige, founder of Baby Sign Studio, is a creative and engaging baby sign language strategist and positive parenting advocate. Marcie creates baby sign strategy plans for new moms that are, fun, engaging and powerfully effective. The result is a warm and comforting home free of obsessive crying, temper tantrums and misbehaviour.

Sign up for FREE baby sign strategy sessions on her website.

Find her here on Facebook.



Potty Training – Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Potty Training Solution

Get Ready

If your child is near or has passed his first birthday, you can begin incorporating pre-potty training ideas into his life. They are simple things that will lay the groundwork for potty training and will make the process much easier when you’re ready to begin.

• During diaper changes, narrate the process to teach your toddler the words and meanings for bathroom-related functions. Include descriptive words that you’ll use during the process, such as wet, dry, wipe, and wash.

• If you’re comfortable with it, bring your child with you when you use the toilet. Explain what you’re doing. Tell him that when he gets bigger, he’ll go in the toilet instead of in his diaper. Let him flush the toilet if he wants to.

• Help your toddler identify what’s happening when she wets or fills her diaper. Have her watch you dump and flush.

• Start giving your child simple directions and help him to follow them. For example, ask him to get a toy from another room or to put the spoon in the dishwasher.

• Encourage your child to do things on her own: put on her socks, pull up her pants, carry a cup to the sink, or fetch a book.

• Have a daily sit-and-read time together.

• Take the readiness quiz again every month or two to see if you’re ready to move on to active potty learning.

Get Set

• Buy a potty chair, a dozen pairs of training pants, four or more elastic-waist pants or shorts, and a supply of pull-up diapers or disposables with a feel-the-wetness sensation liner.

• Put the potty in the bathroom, and tell your child what it’s for.

• Read books about going potty to your child.

• Let your child practice just sitting on the potty without expecting a deposit.


• Begin dressing your child in training pants or pull-up diapers.

• Create a potty routine–have your child sit on the potty when she first wakes up, after meals, before getting in the car, and before bed.

• If your child looks like she needs to go–tell, don’t ask! Say, “Let’s go to the potty.”

• Boys and girls both can learn sitting down. Teach your son to hold his penis down. He can learn to stand when he’s tall enough to reach.

• Your child must relax to go: read a book, tell a story, sing, or talk about the day.

• Make hand washing a fun part of the routine. Keep a step stool by the sink, and have colorful, child-friendly soap available.

• Praise her when she goes!

• Expect accidents, and clean them up calmly.

• Matter-of-factly use diapers or pull-ups for naps and bedtime.

• Either cover the car seat or use pull-ups or diapers for car trips.

• Visit new bathrooms frequently when away from home.

• Be patient! It will take three to twelve months for your child to be an independent toileter.


• If your child has temper tantrums or sheds tears over potty training, or if you find yourself getting angry, then stop training. Review your training plan and then try again, using a slightly different approach if necessary, in a month or two.

This article is an excerpt from The No-Cry Potty Training Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Child Say Good-Bye to Diapers by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)

You are welcome to reprint this article on your website or in your newspaper or newsletter, provided that you reprint the entire article, including the complete byline with author’s name and book title.

Please also send a link or copy to

Thank you!



Moving from Crib to Bed

By Elizabeth Pantley,

author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

When your child moves from crib to bed it’s a milestone in his life as well as yours. There is no precise time for making this move, though typically it’s between the first and third birthday. The key to success is to be patient and allow your child time to adjust to the change.

Why move a child from crib to bed? If a child sleeps well in his crib, don’t rush the change. Switching to a bed gives a child freedom and brings new issues for parents, such as the yo-yo syndrome or early morning wanderings.

The most common reasons to switch:

Your child learns how to climb.

Your child outgrows the crib.

Your child asks for a bed.

Your child is learning how to use the toilet.

A new sibling is on the way.

What kind of bed should my child move to?

There are a number of options for a child’s first bed:

  1. Toddler bed – these are small, low and child-sized. They have guard rails on all sides, and come in playful designs.
  2. Regular bed – a common choice is a mattress, box springs and bed frame (with all sides protected from fall-outs). Consider a double or bigger size to accommodate the night-reading ritual.
  3. Mattress on the floor – a popular choice is a mattress or futon on the floor. This provides your little one with a big-kid bed, but one that prevents any painful falls.
  4. Bunk bed – hold off on a bunk bed until your child is 6 years old, when it is considered safe.

How do we make the change?

Which approach is best for you will depend on your reasons for making the change, your child’s personality, and the size of his room. Here are a few options:

Maintain your nightly bedtime routine and help your child develop a positive association with his new bed, since he’ll be sleeping there for many years to come.

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, 2005)


Hitting, Kicking, Biting and Hair Pulling

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of

The No-Cry Discipline Solution

Children resort to aggressive behaviors because of a lack of wisdom and self-control. It is not a sign that a child is hateful or mean. Kids are human beings and human beings will get angry, we can’t prevent that. What we can do is teach our children how to handle their frustration and anger in appropriate ways. If your child uses these physical acts to express her feelings, use some of the following tips to change her behavior.

Intercede before it happens

Watch your child during playtime. When you see her becoming frustrated or angry – intervene. Coach her through the issue. Teach her what to do, or model what to say to her friend. Or if she seems too upset to learn, redirect her attention to another activity until her emotions level out.

Teach and explain

It’s one thing to tell a child what not to do or to step into an argument and solve it yourself. It’s another thing entirely to teach her what to do in advance of the next problem. This can be done through role-play, discussion, and reading a few children’s books about angry emotions.

Examine hidden causes

Is your child hungry, tired, sick, jealous, frustrated, bored or scared? If you can identify any feelings driving your child’s actions you can address those along with the aggressive behavior.

Give more attention to the injured party

Often the child who hits gets so much attention that the action becomes a way of gaining the spotlight. Instead, give more attention to the child who was hurt. After a brief statement, “No hitting!” turn and give attention to the child who was wronged, “Come here and Mommy will give you a hug and read you a book.”

Teach positive physical touches

Show your child how to hold hands during a walk or how to give a back rub or foot massage. Teach a few physical games, like tag or cat’s cradle. Under direct supervision, children who are more physical can gain a positive outlet for their physical energy.

Teach the clapping method

Tell a child to clap his hands whenever he feels an urge to hit. This gives him an immediate outlet for his emotions and helps him learn to keep his hands to himself. An alternate is to teach him to put his hands in his pockets when he feels like hitting. Reward with praise anytime you see he’s successful.

Give your child a time out

To use Time Out when a child acts out aggressively, immediately and gently take the child by the shoulders, look him in the eye and say, “No hurting others, time out.” Guide the child to a chair and tell him, “You may get up when you can play without hitting.” By telling him that he can get up when he’s ready, you let him know that he is responsible for controlling his own behavior. If the child gets up and hits again, say, “You are not ready to get up yet,” and direct him back to time out.

Avoid play hitting and wrestling

Young children who roughhouse with a parent or sibling during play time might then use these same actions during non-wrestling times. It can be hard for them to draw the line between the two. If you have a child who has trouble controlling his physical acts then avoid this kind of play.

Don’t lose control

When you see your child hurting another child it’s easy to get angry. This won’t teach your child what she needs to learn: how to control her emotions when others are making her mad. You are mad at her, so she’ll be watching how you handle your anger.

Don’t let your child watch violent TV or video games

Children can become immune to the impact of violence, and they may copy what they see depicted on the screen. Avoid viewing shows that portray aggression as an appropriate way of handling anger.

Don’t assume your child can figure it out

If your child comes to you about a difficult situation, don’t send him away for tattling. But don’t step in and handle it for him, either. View his call for help as an invitation to teach him important social skills.

Don’t focus on punishment

More than anything your child needs instructions on how to treat other human beings, particularly during moments of anger or frustration.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Discipline Solution

(McGraw-Hill 2007)





The Big Three: Tantrums, Fussing and Whining

by Elizabeth Pantley

Author of The No-Cry Discipline Solution

If you ask parents to list the most frustrating discipline problems during the early childhood years, you would find that these three items appear on every parent’s list. They are so common that I refer to them as The Big Three. All children master their own version of these behaviors, some are more talented in one area over another, and they appear and disappear at various ages and stages – but every parent has to deal with them!

Controlling their emotions

Most often tantrums, fussing and whining are caused by a child’s inability to express or control his emotions. When a child is stressed in any way he’s more likely to lose control. Tiredness, hunger, boredom, frustration and other causes that ignite The Big Three can frequently be avoided or modified. The best way to use this knowledge is to watch your child carefully. When she begins a meltdown, try to determine if you can tell what underlying issue is causing the problem. Is it past naptime? Is she due for a snack? Is the puzzle too much beyond her ability level? Solve the base problem and you’ll help your child gain control of her emotions.

Handling tantrums, fussing and whining

No matter how diligent you are in recognizing trigger causes, your child will still have meltdown moments. Or even meltdown days. Children are human beings, after all. Young humans, without the experience and wisdom that will grow over time. And all children need the guidance of a strong adult to help them gain this experience and wisdom – they can’t do it on their own. The following tips can help you handle those inevitable bumps in the road along the way. Be flexible and practice those solutions that seem to bring the best results for your child in any given situaiton.

Get eye-to-eye

When you make a request from a distance, yelling from room-to-room, your child will likely ignore you, if he hears you at all. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums – from both of you. Instead, go to your child, get down to his level, look him in the eye and make a clear, concise request. This will catch his full attention. Plus, you will know that he really did hear you and can get him to verify that he understands what you need him to do.

Tell him what you DO want

Avoid focusing on misbehavior and what you don’t want him to do. Children hear far to many Nos, Don’ts and Stops. These negative words bring more resistance from your child.  Instead, explain exactly what you’d like your child to do or say in a positive, specific way. It gives him simple instructions to follow. So instead of saying, “Stop bickering over your toys!” a better choice is, “I’d like the two of you to find a fair way to share your toys.”

Offer the freedom of choices within limits

You may be able to avoid problems by giving your child more of a say in his life. Children crave independence, yet we must remain in control of this growing need. You can do this by offering choices between two or three things that you will accept. Instead of saying, “Put your coat on  right now,” which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, “What would you rather do, wear your coat or bring along a sweatshirt?” Children who are involved in their own decision making are often happily cooperating without even realizing it!

Validate his feelings

Help your child identify and understand her emotions. Give words to her feelings, “You’re sad. You want to stay here and play. I know.” This doesn’t mean you must give in to her request, but letting her know that you understand her problem may be enough to help her calm down. Follow the validation with a brief explanation and instructions, “The bus leaves soon, so take one last turn down the slide before we leave.”

Teach the Quiet Bunny

When children get worked up, their physiological symptoms keep them in an agitated state. They become tense, their breathing becomes rapid, and their You can teach your child how to relax and then use this approach when fussing begins.  You can start each morning or end each day with a brief relaxation session. Have your child sit or lie comfortably with eyes closed. Tell a story that he’s a quiet bunny. Name body parts (feet, legs, tummy, etc.) and have your child wiggle it, and then relax it.  Once your child is familiar with this process you can call upon it at times when he is agitated. Crouch down to your child’s level, put your hands on his shoulders, look him in the eye and say, let’s do our Quiet Bunny. And then talk him through the process. Over time, just mentioning it and asking him to close his eyes will bring relaxation.

Distract and involve

Children can easily be distracted when a new activity is suggested. If your child is whining or fussing try viewing it as an “activity” that your child is engaged in. Since children aren’t very good multi-taskers you might be able to end the unpleasant activity with the recommendation of something different to do.

Invoke his imagination

If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: “I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store.” This can become a fun game.

Use the preventive approach

Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive (tell what you want, not what you don’t want) and be specific.

When it’s over, it’s over. After an episode of misbehavior is finished you can let it go and move on. Don’t feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.


by Elizabeth Pantley

The No-Cry Discipline Solution (McGraw-Hill 2007)


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