Sibling Rivalry: It’s what happened when we stopped sending kids down the coal mines!

by Penny Cook

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At what point did sibling rivalry become 2 separate words? Anyone with 2 or more children knows it’s actually one word….because as soon as you have a sibling, there is rivalry. All our good intentions in planning the ‘best possible’ age gap between children goes to play dough as soon as there is a second child and is there to stay for subsequent additions to the clan.

Sibling rivalry is one of those primitive dispositions in children’s lives that we don’t like to deal with, let alone acknowledge as a normal and healthy part of socialisation. I’m not saying physical abuse is ok but when children ‘rival’ with each other for the same amount of dosh for pocket money or who’s done the dishes more times or had more turns on the computer, they’re actually exploring ‘fairness’, which is a concept we would like them to know about. Our struggle as parents and grandparents is how to teach them understanding and negotiation for equitable outcomes, compromise, empathy and generosity in sibling rivalry, cos God knows, often it’s easier to send them all to their rooms!!

Sibylesque Sibling Rivalry Awkward family photos

When we stop and talk children through what they’re experiencing and how it might work for them and others we are doing the whole of society a big favour. Now, this isn’t going to be possible with every squabble but acknowledging and naming feelings and being a fair arbitrator not only builds trust but let’s children know that situations can be solved and builds their skills in doing so. They will learn far more about equity from watching and experiencing the actions of the trusted adults in their lives than any social learning program. So grown ups, when you feel disempowered by the ‘rivalry’, remember, there’s a learning opportunity and a purpose in all of it.

Of course, at times, the darlings may just be being little so and so’s. That’s what bedrooms are for. If they won’t go there, you can!!

Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

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Photo source: Awkward Family Photos

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I love my mother but I don’t want to have children!

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque parent worry quoteWhy would a  daughter who loves her mother not want to have children? Be careful what you wish. We feminist mothers wished that our daughters would be free to make their own decisions in life. Nevertheless, we are the first generation of mothers, who cannot assume that grandchildren will appear. I understand why young women, who had difficult mothers may not want children. But young vibrant women who love their mothers … that is a different group. Why wouldn’t they want children?

I had the opportunity to ask a young successful professional woman, this question. She adored, and was also grieving for, her mother who had recently died at the age of 71. The young woman had postponed child bearing until her forties when, fortunately, she gave birth two much loved children when she was 42 and then 45 years of age.

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So why don’t feminist daughters of feminist mothers want children? Or, some of them, at least. The young woman first cited failed relationships. Some young women stumble through their twenties and then their thirties from one failed relationship to another. I would add job security as another factor. Some young women worry that they cannot afford children.

Nevertheless, this young feminist felt that feminist mothers are so adamant that their daughters establish independent careers, any talk of motherhood gets lost in the conversation.

So you’ve been warned. Maybe all feminist mothers should talk up motherhood a little more. Afterall, when we mothers get together at any age, guess who we talk about?

Photo source: vintag.es

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Hey Grandma, try this … build your grandchild’s imagination!

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque bob Newhart quote laughterWho could have ever have predicted that when recycle bins were installed in homes and offices all over Australia, the future creativity of the nation would be under threat! Don’t get me wrong. Recycling is the right thing to do for the planet and, I can tell there has been a huge change in social behavior because early childhood settings all over the country are suffering from a lack of cereal boxes, toilet rolls, milk cartons (remember them), egg cartons, corks and the like!! All of which are ‘gold’ to the imaginations of our youngest innovators.

Sibylesque iPod kidA natural part of how children learn is to make sense of the world they’re experiencing by re presenting their thinking. That’s why they pretend to be someone they’re not (dramatic play), use bananas as telephones and understand that 3 cereal boxes and 2 toilet rolls is really a robot. Without ready access to a range of discarded but potentially fabulous resources, children will miss out on opportunities to be creators and innovators.

What used to go to preschools and schools as ‘junk’ and was transformed into amazing creations, now ends up in recycle centres to be turned into toilet paper, envelopes and tyres. Early years settings are crying out for recycled goods. I have seen teachers guiltily deconstruct a mermaid that didn’t go home with its owner, to recycle the recycling!! Without the ‘junk’ the alternative is pressure to purchase pre packaged expensive bags of coloured sticks, straws, feathers and sequins or alternatively, pre packaged expensive natural materials. Either way children need to and will be creative.

In northern Italy, the city of Reggio Emilia, well known internationally for their early childhood centres, has developed Remida, a centre for organizing and displaying discarded materials to be used as creative resources. Schools can go there and stock up on all kinds of interesting recycled materials, which then get translated into the most amazing creations. There is an endless supply because businesses and industries work in partnership with the city and recognize the importance of the creative process in learning. I’m wondering, is it possible to use face book and social media to influence another change in social behavior –putting in a ‘create and innovate’ step before the recycle depot.

Sibylesque Creative StationOnce at kindy, a child had a plaster cast on his leg. At the same time there was a young boy who didn’t speak. This boy went to the never ending supply of ‘junk’ material, found two milk cartons, cut the bottoms out, opened out the tops and then placed a carton on each leg. That ‘spoke’ to me. It told me this boy wanted to know what it felt like to walk with plaster on his legs. I’d say I was seeing empathy- wanting to understand from another’s point of view. If there wasn’t access to the recycling, I might never have known that about the boy who didn’t speak.

So…tip out the recycling, re badge it as ‘the creative station’, throw in scissors, tape and a glue stick and watch what the kids do!! Or, bundle it up and take it (washed and sorted) to the local early childhood centre or school. The children of Australia will be extremely createful!!

Also check out: how a child’s creativity and imagination helps them deal with anxieties and phobias.

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

Photo source: Popsugar, Familysponge

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Do modern parenting styles create phobias in kids?

by Kerry Cue

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Yes and No. Parents with Social Phobia, for instance, may pass their fears on to their children. However, we, the Sibyls, know that children have vastly different personalities, coping styles and anxiety levels. And they grow up with many influences including dominating siblings, unstable family structures, economic pressures, school, the culture and the media.

Nevertheless, studies show that parents can help reduce anxiety levels in young children by encouraging:

  1. Creative Play: In The Serious Need for Play (Scientific American Mind, 28 JAN 2009) Melinda Wenner cites studies that show ‘Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.’
  1. Sibylesque Po Kung Fu PandaRisk Taking: Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.” (See: Can playgrounds be to safe? John Tierney, New York Times, 18 JUL 2011)

Research by Professor Sandseter supports the argument that children are born to take risks and this is how they learn to deal with such things as fear of heights. If a child does not tackle a fear of heights, say, then they can develop a phobia. Sometimes parents too need to be encouraged to take risks with their parenting. And these studies help start the conversation.

Does Helicopter Parenting harm children? You might want to read: Help My Bubble Wrap Kid Just Turned 40!

Photo Source: Reblogger blog.

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Help! My Bubble Wrap Kid Just turned 40

by Kerry Cue

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‘My eldest daughter is 32 this year. So this is the one raised in the early 80s when Penelope Leach was the guru. Anyway, excuse me!

Bloody Penelope Leach where you had to be breast-feeding continually and everything was baby centered and child focused and you always had to stimulate the baby and raise their self-esteem.’

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     ………………………..Virginia, NSW, RN, Life Matters, ABC Talkback,28 MAR 2014

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Does Helicopter Parenting Harm Kids?

your-baby-and-child Penelope LeachOnce parents felt their role was to feed and clothe their children, and wash behind their ears (for some reason). In the 1970s, however, a Parenting Revolution emerged. Suddenly, every stage of a child’s development (when they goo, poo, smile, sit etc) demanded parental supervision and emotional support. The new era of Helicopter Parenting had begun. UK psychologist, Penelope Leach, was a flag bearer of this revolution.

Her book, Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five (1977), became the child-rearing bible for many parents, myself included. She provided useful information about snivels and rashes, but constantly boosting a child’s self esteem demands extreme vigilance. Children will fall over. They will come second in a race. They will get B in a test. So a parent had to stay vigilant and always cheer their child’s efforts (even the most lame pasta art effort).

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Now it is time to ask: Does Helicopter Parenting Harm Kids? It can. In his book, How Not to Talk to Your Kids (2007), American journalist Po Bronson warned that constantly praising kids means ‘they never learn strategies to deal with failure’. Bubble Warp kids can become ‘risk adverse’ simply because they can’t deal with the emotional impact of failing.

We Sibyls were the first, if fairly moderate, Helicopter Parents. Our children are now adults so we can comment on some of the long-term outcomes as we observe the first ‘Bubble Wrap kids’ as they turn 40.

Bubble Wrap kids never have to share, never have to wait and never hear the word ‘No’. What would that look like when those kids are 40 years old. Ugly! Very ugly. Who would want to live with a Me-centric 40 year old who won’t share, wait, doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer yet also needs constant emotional support? This isn’t just narcissism, it is needy, clingy narcissism. They will suck the emotional life out of any partner or mother (See Why are Feminist Daughters Angry with their Mothers.)

And one more thing. Will Bubble Wrap kids want to have children of their own? Maybe not. Firstly, children raised Helicopter-style have seen their parents hovering first hand. It looks like hard work.

And, secondly, having children involves risk. For ‘Bubble Wrap Kids’ the idea is terrifying. What if something goes wrong? What if the child is hideous? What if I can’t handle being a parent? Why do it? Having children is way, way too risky!

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Photo Source: Klein Letter Archives

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