Tag: Conflict

Easing Family Tension at Christmas

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Manage Family Conflict and Easing Family Tension at Xmas

It seems that few of us are immune to the occasional family spat and many of us will experience even long term ongoing tension within our family. At no time is this more apparent than at Christmas and often when the decorations go up the gloves come off! You only have to ask around to hear stories about board games gone bad and disagreements about where to eat Christmas lunch ending in a grumpy family eating ham and cheese sandwiches at home.

Arguments may start over everything from when exactly decorations should be allowed out of storage to whether or not a hot lunch is appropriate in Sydney on a 40 degree day. Add to this the “factions” that can develop within larger families along with a good dose of general family angst and you have a recipe for disaster. Why is it that at Christmas we can experience such excitement and yet such distress all at the same time? More importantly, how can you ease the tension in the hope of little more comfort and joy?

Christmas tends to be a time of heightened expectations. That added pressure means that we are all on edge trying a little too hard to make things just right (and we all have a different idea about what “just right” means). There also tends to be the slight feeling of going stir crazy when you are spending long periods of time with a group of people that you usually only see all together once or twice a year. Also, it doesn’t help that Christmas in general is a stressful time with calendars full of events and budgets at breaking point. Many of us are so stressed that it is no wonder that tensions arise.

Family involves a lot of emotion and even a lot of history. Most of your family know which buttons to press (or not press) and you know the same about them. Family members often feel the need to give advice without being asked and parents often have trouble seeing adult children as “grown ups”. In addition to this, we don’t tend to be very polite with our family so manners go out the window and honesty steps in. Remember that when you have an emotional response that your body is likely going into fight-flight-freeze mode which means that systems throughout your body are kicking into action. Many years ago this would have helped you flee from danger and hunt down your dinner but it doesn’t help you to carve a roast or have a civil conversation with a sibling so you may just need some time out to cool down so you can deal with the situation in a level headed way. If you are in a situation of ongoing tension with your family your body may be going through this response many times throughout the day so it may not just be the brandy on the pudding and the tryptophan in the turkey that leaves you desperate for a Christmas afternoon nap.

Once your head is level, or even to prevent it becoming off kilter in the first place, here are some more tips to help minimize the family tension:

  • Be a good guest. Respect the rules, values and routines of the house you are in even if you feel things are not going the way you would have them go in your own home.

  • Choose your battles. Ask yourself, is it worth it? How big a deal is this really? If other family members are being negative you can make the decision to step back and not let yourself be affected by this. If its not worth mentioning or getting into a fight about, let it go.

  • Listen more than you talk. You don’t have to agree with the person you are talking to but you also do not need to prove that you are right about everything. On boxing day, would you rather be looking back at the fun you had as a family, or reflecting on your victory over Uncle Max’s political views? A little “Mmhmmm”, “Oh?” and “I can see how you feel” goes a long way.

  • Take a break and offer breaks to others if it seems like they need it. If someone is getting on your nerves, take a quick drive to pick up some more ice. If a Mum in the family is looking overwhelmed, offer to take the little ones outside for a game.

Remember that Christmas is meant to be a fun time and that it is not just about pleasing others. At the same time, it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself to be feeling hunky dory all day long. Its ok to feel annoyed, frustrated or upset by how family members are behaving but making them feel the same way will probably only make matters worse. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the slightly humid but still festively pine scented air.

The Quirky Kid team had a few more ideas:

“Use organisation and time management to keep your stress levels down in the lead up to the big day. If you are already stressed up to your eyeballs you will be more likely to blow your top when someone makes an unwelcome comment” – Lisa (Psychologist)

“Breaking up the routine with a lot of different and new activities to keep things fun and interesting for all invoice. Ask grown ups to introduce and play they old games with everyone” –  Leo Rocker (Practice Manager)

“Make Xmas structured and predictable by asking family members to help with setting up or cooking different dishes. Having a plan for the day with timeframes for dinner and presents so that everyone is prepared and relaxed. Create separate areas for mingling is also helpful in avoiding tension and that plenty of music and fun activities for the kids but not too much alcohol is advisable – Kimberly O’Brien (Child Psychologist).

Suggested Resources:

You can start the family encounters on a very positive note with these exclusive 100% Festive Cards Set by Quirky Kid. 

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Cultural Identity and Racism in Schools

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Individuality, personality and difference are very much a part of every playground in Australian schools. Everywhere you look you will see children and teachers with their own unique looks and styles navigating their way on the ‘catwalk’ of the school community. Despite the consistency of looks provided by school uniforms, children will still create their very own style codes to make themselves look ‘different’ from others. Indeed it seems diversity is very much valued and encouraged in school. But what if we were to include cultural diversity in this mix? Would it be as equally prized?

Cultural intolerance and discrimination is present in many Australian schools. It occurs between members of minority and majority communities. Note, for example, a 2009 study of secondary school students by the Foundation for Youth Australia, which found that 80 per cent of students from a non-Anglo background experienced racism, while 54.6 per cent of their Anglo-Australian colleagues reported such experience. They were reporting on a wide range of racism experiences, such as: ‘being called an offensive slang name for your cultural group’ through to ‘being refused employment because of your cultural background’.

The Human Rights Commission has also highlighted the issue in many of its reports, triggering responses from states and territories around Australia.

Not only students, but teachers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) or Aboriginal backgrounds also experience discrimination by students and their colleagues. In fact, approximately 65 per cent of people participating in a survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission indicated that they have experienced racism.

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So why are some Australian schools not accepting towards people from CALD backgrounds? And why are Aboriginal students still experiencing racism?

Researchers have asked these questions before and have concluded that children are influenced by prevailing social attitudes. They found that older children, for example, are more tolerant towards Asian-Australian children than their younger peers. However, this was not the case towards Aboriginal children, with young children being more tolerant towards them. Although the development of attitudes and beliefs is a very complex process, children’s attitudes towards cultural tolerance are very much shaped close to home via parents, peers and popular culture promoted through the media. To illustrate this further, a 12-year in-depth study based on comprehensive surveys of more than 12,500 Australians, conducted by the University of Western Sydney, found that one in 10 Australians believe that some races are naturally superior or inferior and advocate segregation.

Teachers’ attitudes in the classroom are also key. Teachers often have limited knowledge of the cultural details of their students, especially from those of a CALD or Aboriginal background, and as a result may hold a stereotypical view of students, which may then negatively influence their behavior and expectations of students. Several other studies, featured on the ‘Racism. NoWay’ website by the NSW Education and Training Department, also demonstrate a predominantly negative attitude towards Aboriginal students in Australian primary and secondary schools.

The consequences for those experiencing racial discrimination are severe and range from psychological to physical health. A predominant effect experienced by victims of racial discrimination is that of confused or troubled cultural identity. Cultural identity refers to the way in which individuals define themselves in relation to the groups to which they belong, such as family, religion, community, nation, sporting group, etc; where a coherent sense of personal identity can act as a protective factor against psychological distress, a troubled or confused sense of identity may lead to mental and emotional distress.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Positive accounts of cultural diversity are found throughout Australia, and overall Australians are largely welcoming of other cultures, and are very positive about living in a multicultural society. Students revealed that making sure people from a CALD or Aboriginal backgrounds are treated equally is very important to them. Furthermore, 85 per cent of people think that something should be done to fight racism.

Indeed, schools provide a unique opportunity to support cultural diversity within the local community and Australia as a whole. Community members have indicated that schools are a top priority in terms of converting ideas into action. Schools vary in the way they support cultural diversity, ranging from a spectrum of action, reaction and inaction based on their local circumstances. Positive outcomes were found when strategies were utilised that celebrate and embrace cultural differences, invite community participation, and deliver educational programs aimed at deconstructing and expanding students’ knowledge of cultural issues.

What parents can do

  • Review your own opinions of culture, diversity and religion
  • Talk positively about people as a whole, particularly in the presence of children
  • Never attach an individual’s behaviour to a specific cultural background
  • Make tolerance and cultural diversity a topic of discussion in the family home
  • Embrace the opportunity to talk to people from other cultural backgrounds and consider arranging more social contact. You may be surprised how much you and your family can benefit by pushing your comfort zone
  • Take a look at the media you and your family consume. Does it present a realistic view of a diverse society? If not, mix it up so that it reflects the reality of multiculturalism.

What schools can do

  • Actions should focus on current students’ attitudes instead of old cultural opinions
  • Provide students with opportunities to engage with many diverse cultures
  • Develop a close relationship between school and community
  • Improve professional development opportunities for teachers and staff
  • Update and improve cultural diversity projects for teacher and students, like the ‘School Days Project’ by Quirky Kid
  • Actively participate in Harmony Day
  • Organize volunteer opportunities for students in refugee agencies and local communities
  • Ask staff members from CALD backgrounds to make announcements at assembly or over the school intercom to celebrate diversity and encourage students from CALD backgrounds to also participate in public speaking opportunities.

This post was written for Essential Kids. It was first published at a Fairfax Website. This content is a Quirky Kid Copyright.

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Sibling Rivalry

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Image from the 'Just Like When Cards' by Quirky Kid

Fighting between siblings, or sibling rivalry,  is a common concern among parents. A certain amount of arguing between children in families is normal, and is one of the ways that children learn the importance of sorting out problems independently, respecting people’s feelings and belongings. Additionally, learning how to fight fairly without hurting each other, within the home environment, may assist children in their ability to sort out issues in future relationships.

A degree of sibling rivalry is normal as learning to live together can be difficult when dealing with the different ages, needs and personalities involved. As children reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly impact on the way they interact and relate with each other.

What are the Common Causes of Sibling Rivalry?

Jealousy and competition are the main causes for sibling rivalry and fighting.

A child may feel that their sibling is receiving more love or attention from a parent, and in response may try to ‘take it out’ on their sibling. Rates of sibling rivalry are lower in families where children feel they are treated equally by their parents.

Other factors that may influence how often sibling rivalry occurs include:

  • Gender and age – sibling rivalry is most likely to occur when the children are of the same gender and close together in age.
  • Toddlers – tend to be possessive of their toys and are learning to assert their will. If a brother or sister attempts to pick up one of their toys, the toddler may react aggressively. This often contributes to sibling rivalry among toddlers.
  • School-aged children – have a strong concept of fairness and equality and may not understand why a younger sibling is receiving additional attention.
  • Teenagers – are developing a sense of individuality and independence and may resent having to spend time looking after younger siblings or helping with house work contributing to sibling rivalry.
  • Individual personalities and temperaments – For instance, if one child tends to cling and be drawn to parents for their love and affection, this can be resented by siblings who don’t seek out or don’t receive the same treatment by their parents.
  • Sibling with special needs – a child may pick up on the amount of time and energy their sibling receives, and act out on this disparity for attention due to lack of understanding of the situation.
  • Examples parents set – the way in which parents resolve conflicts and problems has a significant impact on the way that children interact and resolve their own conflicts. For instance, when parents resolve their issues in a respectful and productive manner, the likelihood that the children of such parents will adopt these techniques is increased. As a parent it is important to manage sibling rivalry.

What can parents do to prevent sibling rivalry?

  • Spend special time with each child on a regular basis to avoid sibling rivalry.
  • Together, set ground rules for acceptable behaviour, such as no name calling, no yelling or hitting.
  • Provide children with their own space and time to do their own thing. For example to play with toys by themselves or to own something special that they don’t have to share. This will help to reduce sibling rivalry.
  • Try not to compare children with each other.
  • Be generous with affection.
  • Have fun together as a family. This will establish a peaceful way for children to spend time together. Playing board games, throwing a ball or watching a movie together are some good ways to do this.

If parents have to get involved….

  • Separate kids until they are calm. This will stop the fight from escalating and will provide an opportunity for emotions to die down. Later the fight can be revisited as a learning experience.
  • Parents should be aware of their own feelings, and to remain fair, even when feeling more frustration towards one child.
  • Try not to take sides, anyone who is involved is partly responsible.
  • Set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. For example, if both children wanted to play with the same toy, suggest playing a game together.
  • Reminding children of the ground rules  will reduce sibling rivalry.
  • Help them listen to each other’s feelings. If required, assist them to work out ways to solve the problem and reduce sibling rivalry.

When possible don’t get involved in the fight. As children learn to cope with disputes, they learn important skills, such as valuing another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate and how to control aggressive impulses.

However, if it is evident that a child is feeling upset, help them find ways to express their feelings before a fight starts. Such as playing with playdough or water for younger children or going for a run or listening to music for older children.

Sometimes, the sibling rivalry becomes so severe that it disrupts daily functioning and can significantly affect children emotionally.

How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help?

There are many ways we can help you to manage sibling rivalry. If you believe your family would benefit from some assistance with sibling rivalry, please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 to discuss the following options:

Recommended Resources:

image of ticktes behaviour tool

 

 

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References:

This post was developed by Corina Vogler, Provisional Psychologist, employed by the Quirky Kid Clinic.

Information for this fact sheet was taken from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, kidshealth.org, and the Raising Children Network.

Fighting between siblings, or sibling rivalry,  is a common concern among parents. A certain amount of arguing between children in families is normal, and is one of the ways that children learn the importance of respecting other peoples feelings, belongings and to sort out problems independently. Additionally, Learning how to fight fairly and without hurting each other within the home environment may assist children in their ability to sort out issues in future relationships.

A degree of sibling rivalry is normal as learning to live together can be difficult when dealing with the different ages, needs and personalities involved. As children reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly impact on the way they interact and relate with each other.

What are the Common Causes of Sibling Rivalry?

Jealousy and Competition are the main causes for siblings to fight and sibling rivalry.

A child may feel that their sibling is receiving more love or attention from a parent, and in response may try to ‘take it out’ on their sibling. Rates of sibling rivalry are lower in families where children feel they are treated equally by their parents.

Other factors that may influence how often sibling rivalry occur include:

  • Gender and age – sibling rivalry is most likely to occur when the children are of the same gender and close together in age
  • Toddlers – tend to be possessive of their toys and are learning to assert their will. If a brother or sister attempt to pick up one of their toys the toddler may react aggressively.
  • School-aged children – have a strong concept of fairness and equality and may not understand why a younger sibling is receiving additional attention.
  • Teenagers – are developing a sense of individuality and independence and may resent having to spend time looking after younger siblings or helping with house work.
  • Individual personalities and temperaments – For instance, if one child tends to be clingy and drawn to parents for their love and affection, this can be resented by siblings who don’t seek out or don’t receive the same treatment by their parents.
  • Sibling with special needs – a child may pick up on the amount of time and energy their sibling receives, and act out on this disparity for attention or due to lack of understanding of the situation.
  • Examples parents’ set – the way in which parents resolve conflict and problems has a significant impact on the way that children interact and resolve their own conflict. For instance, when parents resolve their issues in a respectful and productive manner, the likelihood that the children of such parents will adopt these techniques is increased.

What parents can do to prevent fights

  • Spend special time with each child on a regular basis.
  • Together set ground rules for acceptable behaviour, such as no name calling, no yelling or hitting.
  • Provide children with their own space and time to do their own thing. For example to play with toys by themselves or to own something special that they don’t have to share.
  • Try not to compare children with each other.
  • Be generous with affection.
  • Have fun together as a family. This will establish a peaceful way for children to spend time together. Playing board games, throwing a ball or watching a movie together are some good ways to do this.

If parents have to get involved

  • Separate kids until they are calm. This will stop the fight from escalating and will provide an opportunity for emotions to die down. Later the fight can be revisited as a learning experience.
  • Parents should be aware of their own feelings, and to remain fair, even when feeling more frustration towards one child.
  • Try not to take sides, anyone who is involved is partly responsible.
  • Set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. For example, if both children wanted to play with the same toy, suggest playing a game together.
  • Remind children of ground rules.
  • Help them listen to each others feelings. If required, assist them to work out ways to solve the problem.

When possible don’t get involved in the fight. As children learn to cope with dispute, they learn important skills, such as valuing another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate and how to control aggressive impulses.
However, if it is evident that a child is feeling upset, help them find ways to express their feelings before a fight starts. Such as playing with playdough or water for younger children or going for a run or listening to music for older children.

Sometimes, the conflict between siblings becomes so sever that it disrupts daily functioning and can significantly effect children emotionally.
How the Quirky Kid Clinic can help
If you believe your family would benefit from some assistance with sibling rivalry. Please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (02) 9362 9297      end_of_the_skype_highlighting to discuss the following options:

  • Individual counselling and therapy with one of our experienced Child Psychologists.
  • Family counselling with one of our experienced Child Psychologists.
  • “Raised on Praise” workshops for parents.

Information for this fact sheet was taken from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, kidshealth.org, and the Raising Children Network.

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