Today is the first in my series of quick parent tips designed to make your life easier. As a shrink and parent of 4 young kids, I feel your pain -- and I've worked out some of the wrinkles along the way. I hope you enjoy these -- and comment below if you have a question you'd like me to tackle. Today, I'm picking up my 2 big kids from school, with a baby and preschooler in tow. Sibling rivalry is a common problem, especially after school when everyone is jockeying for your attention. The energy of the house totally changes once the big kids are in the mix. PREVENTION is the key to a smooth afternoon. Try this:
Greet each kid separately, even if it's just for a few seconds. Get down on his level for a sincere smile, hug, and as much of a discussion as you can.
RE-GREET the little ones so they don't feel left out of the special attention given to the big kids. Yeah, I know they've had more of you during the day, but it's still hard to let go and share with the big kids. Give a special few seconds as you strap them back into their car seats.
Music and other media in the car make it tough to decompress and talk after a busy day. Turn it off to bring everyone's stress level down.
When you get home, limit your computer and phone use to a different time of day. Your kids will ratchet up the activity and noise level when they notice you aren't "present". Give them this time with you and your sanity will improve.
Give big praise when siblings get along, and let them know you LOVE when they talk and play nicely after school together. Try to ignore negative behavior...practice the Deep Breath and Look Away approach for copious use. The less attention you give to their antics, and the more you give them props for their good behavior, the better it will get.
Dr. Heather The BabyShrink