Tuesday, October 1, 2013

8 Cheap Activities To Do With Your Kids

These inexpensive ideas are sure to get your kids creative juices flowing! The kids will love them because it gives them something productive to do and mom will love them because they're easy and cheap!
1.) Fly a kite at a local park. Kites can usually be found at any local dollar store. We found a cute Tigger kite at our local Dollar Tree.
2.) Blow bubbles. Now how cheap are bubbles, like $.50 a bottle?! Kids can have contests to see who can make the most or the biggest bubble.
3.) Make an "I love You" card for someone. Or is someone's birthday coming up? Let the kids be creative and make a friend or relative a card from the heart.
4.) Paint Rocks. You can find rocks anywhere. Let the kids be creative with some paint, markers, ribbons, beads and glue.
5.) Catch fireflies, ants, bugs or butterflies. Summer nights are perfect for catching fireflies and they are so neat as a nightlight. At your local dollar store, you may also be able to find a cheap ant farm. These are so much fun!!
6.) Put together a puzzle. These always keep kids entertained and busy.
7.) Make paper airplanes. Let the kids make their own, decorate them and then fly them.
8.) Frame their hands and feet! Have your kids put their hand prints and feet prints on paper and then frame them in an inexpensive frame. This is something that you will love down the road when the kids are grown.

Beating Homework Struggles Forever

Homework causes more headaches for parents than it does for children. Some parents worry because their children don't seem to do enough while others are concerned because they do too much.
But for many parents homework is that time of the day when they routinely harass, hassle and harangue their child to JUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Okay, what to do?
The first step is to know the homework policy of your children's school and understand what is expected of you as a parent. Most school's have parent interviews and information sessions at the start of the new year so make sure next year you get a good handle on how your children's teacher expects you to assist your child.
It is also useful to find out what your children's teacher will do if your child doesn't complete set tasks. Homework is basically an agreement between a teacher and a child so it should be up to the teacher to ensure the homework is completed. That means the teacher becomes 'the bad guy' and puts some consequence in place if the homework is not completed. Your role as a parent is to support the school if a consequence is put in place, such as missing some recess to complete or whatever.
Parents need to be mindful that it is hard for teachers these days as they don't have too many options available to ensure children complete homework.
Here are 10 tips to help you handle homework in a relatively sane way:
1. Establish homework time and stick to it each day. If children tell you that they don't have any formal homework then they can read, revise or organise their work. My feedback tells me that sticking to a routine despite the fact that no formal homework is set extremely useful and helps avoid battles.
2. Put the onus back on your children to take responsibility for their work. Ask children at the start of a homework session to state how much homework they will do. At the end of the session check it to see if it matches with their intentions as well as yours. If you are more concerned about homework than them then it is you not your children who is responsible for homework.
3. Homework is as much a time management issue as anything else. Encourage students to work reasonably quickly and efficiently. Have a set time limit, which they should stick to. There is generally little point slogging away once they become frustrated or tired. Give them an egg-timer or use a clock and get them to work hard for small chunks of time. A little work each night is more productive than packing it into one weekly session.
4. Help children decide the best time to do homework and then encourage them to stick to those times. Maybe on some days homework is tackled after dinner for any number of reasons. If having homework done straight adter school is important to you then consider feeding children ONLY after homework is completed. Food can be a huge motivator for some children!!! (As mentioned in point 1 it is important that there is a homework routine, but the timing can vary.)
5. Establish a good working environment for students. Make sure they have a quiet area away from distractions that is well lit and with good ventilation. A table or desk makes a good workspace, although don't be surprised if they spread work out all over the kitchen table. Some kids hate to be stuck away in their rooms and prefer to work at the kitchen table and can do so productively. Others are easily distracted and work in short bursts. Work out what is best for YOUR child.
6. Use the motivating research tool of the 21st Century - the Internet. It is quick, convenient and gives access to huge amounts of information. Nevertheless, children should still know how to access information from more traditional means such as books. Check with your child's teacher as to their specific recommendations and preferences.
7. Encourage children to get organised by thinking ahead and planning their homework around their extra-curricular activities. A weekly planner or diary will help older students get organised. Assisting children to become organised is perhaps the best way parents can help at home.
8. If you are helping a child with a particular task, keep your explanation as simple and practical as you can. If you become upset or frustrated and the atmosphere becomes tense then stop helping.
9. Be realistic and don't expect to solve all homework difficulties. When in doubt send a note to your child's teacher letting him or her know the problem. The teacher will appreciate this good communication.
10. If you have concerns about the how much homework your child is set or the level of difficulty of homework contact the teacher and arrange a time to discuss your worries. Such discussion is the basis of true partnership between you and your child's teacher.
Homework hassles have always been around and always will be. The place of homework is routinely questioned by education authorities (now is currently one of those times in Australia) but my gut reaction is that children will always have homework. The name may change and the activities may vary but it will always be homework.
I urge schools to make sure homework is varied, interesting, engaging and purposeful for children and parents.
Parents also need to be patient with both children (if they struggle) and schools that are trying to find a balance between too little and too much in these busy times.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Are Our Children TOO Entitled?


It frustrates me that so many kids today feel "entitled" to the best of everything. It's a hard notion for me to grasp because I wasn't brought up that way. It seems to me that such a focus on "stuff" can be a huge defocus from the values that matter most. How do we break out of this "Me, Me, Me" thing with our kids?

I understand; I wasn't raised that way, either. (Every day of my life I'm grateful for that.) While I lived at home, my dad worked in the oil patch and my mom was a housewife. Money was generally pretty tight. Thinking back on it now, my sister and I grew up in a home that often struggled financially.
(I believe it broke Dad's heart to tell me that, aside from providing a place for to me to live, plus food and laundry, he was unable help me with college tuition and books. So I continued to live at home, worked part-time at the local radio station and commuted to junior college.)
In my career of working with young people and their families, I've encountered youngsters whose folks truly were poor. These kids never spoke of wanting the newest video game console, or the most popular clothes, or a new car when they graduated high school. They spoke instead of having enough to pay the rent, to have enough food in the house, and the opportunity to be the first in their family to graduate high school. When they did want something else, it was not for themselves, but for a younger brother or sister. I am convinced that, if we can help these kids break the cycle of poverty, they will become the salt of the earth, with no hint of entitlement. That makes helping them achieve stability and significance in their lives a double blessing.
As parents and grandparents, we naturally want our children and grandkids to have what we never had at their age. But is it possible to overdo it? Of course; it's easy to create entitlement issues in the process. We don't do it to spoil our children; we just want them to have the breaks, opportunities and "stuff" we didn't have. Unfortunately, it can work against our best efforts to create sensitive and responsible adults.
One "cure" for entitlement in our children (we're talking about a junior variety of grandiosity here) is to help them understand that life not a perpetual gravy train; it can be difficult for many. One child service agency I worked with had youngsters doing volunteer work at a homeless shelter during school's mid-year holiday break. It helped them to reset their perspective. They learned the value of service to others and the importance of being tolerant of the circumstances of less fortunate people.
I can still remember taking my son, Jamie, with me on a trip to downtown Houston. He was about 10 or so at the time. We walked around looking for a place to have supper. Jamie saw people going through garbage cans looking for something to eat. It touched him to the core. It had never occurred to him that people could be that hungry and that desperate. He never forgot what he saw there, and he's a more grateful and generous person because of that experience.
Often, it's the lessons we don't plan that stick with us the most.
Many young people don't really have an accurate idea of the value of money. It's not their fault; they just don't know what a dollar is in terms of the work and effort it takes to earn one. Challenge them to learn this lesson first-hand by establishing a goal for something they want and working to get it themselves. For adolescents, a part-time job, even if it's just for a few hours a week, can be an experience greater than what they earn. They learn even more about being tolerant, they learn how to get along with the boss and coworkers, and they learn how to talk to the public. How can you put a price tag on that?
While rags to riches seem to be an American staple, we should caution our children that there are riches to rags stories, also. Things can change quickly.
The Road of Life has many twists and turns in it, and we never really know when trouble and difficulty might hang around longer than we want. Those twists and turns are managed best with a grateful and humble heart, plus the wisdom in knowing that very, very few of us were raised on the Good Ship Lollipop.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7923679

Friday, August 16, 2013

Defiant Children and POWER STRUGGLES!


Do you have a defiant child? Do you feel like no matter what you tell your child to do, your child won't follow through with requests? One key to managing your defiant child is to END THE POWER STRUGGLE! In fact, make a commitment to end the power struggle today! Everything doesn't have to be a fight. Some things are just not worth the battle. So many parents get wrapped up in the idea that their child must be MADE to listen to them-that every time their child disobeys them, then the child must be punished. I'm here to tell you that managing your child's behavior isn't about disciplining every single thing your child does wrong. Instead, it's about having a parenting plan that will change your child's behavior over time.
Here are some guidelines to get you started managing your defiant child:
*Start tracking. For a week or so, jot down in a notebook everything you and your child fight over and when these fights occur.
*Categorize the data you collected and look for patterns. Do you fight with your child frequently over bed time? Is your child more defiant when it comes to what they wear or what they eat?
*Rate the defiant behaviors in order of most important to address to least important to address.
*Focus your discipline of your defiant child on the behaviors you feel are most important to address, and let the other ones go for now. This is where you begin to end the power struggles with your child. It's far more important to get your child to stop hitting his sibling than it is to have him make his bed daily. End the power struggle over the bed and focus on disciplining the hitting behavior at first.
As a parent you can't fight your defiant child all of the time on every misbehavior that he or she engages in. If you try, your life will be a constant battle, you'll be exhausted, and your child will never learn to respect you. Learn to let some things go, for now at least. Focus on what is most important. Fix those things and the other smaller problem behaviors will begin to fix themselves over time. Remember changing your defiant child's behavior won't happen overnight. It likely took many months or even years for your child to develop these habits and behaviors and it will take several months of hard, focused work on your part as the parent to undo them. But remember, the longest journey starts with a single step! Get started today and in a few months your child's defiant behaviors will most certainly be diminished and you will be a much happier parent in the process.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7915396

6 Ways to Create a Thriving Home Environment


What is a thriving home environment?
A thriving home environment is all the circumstances, conditions, or factors that enable and encourage your family to thrive.
Your daughter can be fabulous, but if she is planted in stressful or negative soil she is not going to thrive.
I love to garden, but not during the Houston summer. The triple digits of heat and humidity are relentless, and take a toll on plants and flowers. Even though I consistently water the plants, they wither and turn brown under the extreme heat. These same plants in April are green, growing, and budding with flowers.
What's the difference? Why did these plants flourish in April?
The weather conditions were perfect for the plants to thrive in. It's not the plants fault; it was the environment that made the difference.
Just like the plants, your daughter is going to flourish in the right conditions.
See it's tempting to blame everything on your daughter, but there could be some things you can change in the home environment that will help her thrive.
I believe a thriving home environment is bigger and more influential than all your teens' drama or negativity. Instead of you and your family getting sucked into her drama vortex; she can be drawn into the health, love, optimism and encouragement of a thriving home environment.
It's easy to focus on what you don't want at home, instead of focusing on what you do want.
I wish the fighting would stop. I'm sick of her attitude and anger.
It's important to be intentional about what you do want. I want to enjoy my family and spend quality time with them.
And here's the deal. This is not a onetime thing. It's good to constantly reevaluate the home environment, because the busyness of our daily lives can take over.
6 Ways to Create a Thriving Home Environment
1. Get clear about what you want for your home
How would you describe a thriving home environment in one word?
Peaceful, positive, safe, warm, respectful, fun, loving, connected, playful, organized, relaxing.
2. Have a No Drama Policy
The foundation of a Thriving Home Environment is emotional and physical safety. When there are constant screaming, threats, belittling or shaming words, no one can thrive. This is why everyone in your family needs to agree to a No Drama Policy
Establish a No Drama Policy.
Drama is when one or more persons gets emotionally flooded and loses control. This lack of control comes in the form of yelling, raising your voice, throwing things, slamming doors, pushing, threatening, shaming, name calling, and throwing out obscenities. It is crucial that you get your partner on board with this.
In order to implement a No Drama Policy your family needs a "Calm Down" strategy.
A key factor in the "Calm Down" strategy is giving each other space. You need space to calm down. After you calm down, then you can have conversations with other family members. But the first step is to calm down.
For example if your daughter comes home from school upset, don't pry right away. Let her find her own ways to calm down. She may calm down by listening to her iPod, Facebook, TV, exercising, and chatting with her friends.
But this needs to happen for everyone in the family, not just your daughter. Everyone in the home needs to identify their strategy for calming down. This could be listening to music, praying, meditating, talking to friends, going for a run, going to the gym, or reading a book. "Calm Down" strategy is finding something that will distract you, so you are physically able to calm down.
3. Be a stress buster by cultivating downtime
Stress is the big enemy. It robs your family of joy, love, and laughter. 90 percent of all conflict in your home is caused by stress. Because of this you need to intentionally decrease stress.
There are many ways to decrease stress in the home but one huge way is by cultivating downtime in your home. A healthy family is not just a productive family. It's a family who can chill, relax and rest. This is where the Kodak memories come from. They sure don't come when you're stressed.
Downtime just doesn't happen, it's being eaten up by over packed schedules. Today, you have to move mountains of activities to get it in your schedule.
Downtime can transform your family for 2 big reasons. It decreases pressure which allows your body to relax, and it cultivates positive connections and experiences in your family.
When you are relaxed you are more present to the people around you. I saw this all the time when I was a youth minister in the 80′s. Kids would entertain themselves doing absolutely nothing and they were hilarious. They would do stupid human tricks. You know the girl who can put her leg behind her head. They would throw ice on each other.
Though this looks like a complete waste of time to parents, the kids were de-stressing, relaxing and having positive experiences with each other.
4. Create a "teen friendly" atmosphere.
"Teen friendly" doesn't mean that you have an olympic size swimming pool in your backyard or have a movie theatre inside your home.
It doesn't mean that you slip a beer to a kid, or turn your head when they are in the backyard.
Quite the contrary, a thriving home environment has clear rules and boundaries that protect the teens.
A "teen friendly" home is when kids know you like them and that they are welcome. There needs to be a relaxed atmosphere where the kids feel free to lounge around, raid your refrigerator, laugh loudly, play their music, and have fun. If they sense tension and distance from you they will find another house to hang out in.
5. Create a Family Mission Statement
Get your family on board by creating a mission statement. At a family meeting ask them what they want the atmosphere of the home to be like. Have them throw out one word or sentence that would describe what it would be like.
Example: I want my home to be a place of order and beauty. I want everyone to feel comfortable in our home. I want to be able to chill with my friends.
6. Be intentional encouragers
When you live with someone, especially a teenager it's easy to see the negative. It may feel natural to point out what's wrong with her or any other family member, but it does not build a thriving atmosphere. If you are going to have a thriving home environment, encouragement, praise and gratitude needs to far outweigh the "helpful" criticism.
Turn this around by being intentional encouragers. Challenge yourself to say one encouraging thing a day to everyone in your family.
Here are some Tips for helpful praise and encouragement
*praise the effort is more helpful than praising underlying ability
*specific praise is more helpful than generic
*praise should be sincere
*praise should not be overdone
What is your first step to creating a Thriving Home Environment?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tips for Healthy Eating on a Theme Park Vacation

Written By Kendra Thornton

Theme parks are a lot of fun for kids and adults alike, but they can pose challenges for health-conscious parents.  Many parks do not allow outside food or beverages, and the fare inside the park can be overpriced and chock full of sugar and sodium.  Fortunately, it's possible to have a fun day out at the park without resorting to expensive and unhealthy meals; you just need to do a bit of planning in advance.  Here are some ideas for maintaining healthy habits at a theme park destination:

1.)  Eat a healthy breakfast before you arrive at the park.  Filling up at the start of the day will give you energy and prevent the urge to buy additional snacks inside the park.  Most Orlando hotels serve complimentary breakfast, and some of the nicer resorts will provide excellent healthful options.  Focus on filling, nutritious fare like oatmeal, eggs and fresh fruit and skip the sugary pastries.  

2.)  When eating out, opt to share entrees rather than ordering individually.  Many theme parks have restaurants that are worth sampling, but the prices can be quite high and the portions very large.  Solve this by ordering one or two entrees and sharing them among the family.  You can fill in any gaps with more inexpensive side dishes.  

3.)  Keep plenty of snacks in the fridge at the hotel.  By keeping the hotel room stocked with healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, protein bars and whole wheat crackers, you can stave off hunger after returning to the hotel and prevent any late-night cravings for fast food or vending machine visits.  If the theme park allows you to bring your own food, you can pack a small cooler of healthy snacks to bring with you wherever you go. If you have to get something on the go at the park, I would encourage you to still make healthy fast food decision to avoid repercussions later!

4.) When traveling by car, take frequent rest stops to allow your kids to run around and blow off some steam.  This will help prevent them from being too out-of-control once you arrive at the destination, and it can give them some exercise as well.  

5.) Encourage hand washing.  Before you sit down to eat, make sure your kids wash their hands properly.  Theme parks can be a breeding ground for germs, especially if kids are going on rides that may not have been sanitized all day.  Teach your kids proper hand sanitation habits to protect them from contaminants.  

 Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean that you and your kids need to be eating fattening processed foods.  By focusing on ways to eat nutritious meals wherever you go, you can give your kids a dose of healthy energy that will last throughout the day.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sibling Rivalry: Some Solutions

by Patty Wipfler

Raising one child is challenging in our fast-paced and adult-oriented society. Raising more than one child brings added joys, and often, difficult feelings that start with the older child and eventually infect the younger child too. 

Those feelings can be lifted by a few important strategies which, employed early and
often, can clear the way for rich, playful, and loving relationships between children. Since these strategies are not the typical, "Don't do that or I'll send you to your room" approach, they are challenging to use. But the results they bring over time are deeply rewarding.
Preparation for a brother or sister
Every child has longings for more time and more closeness with their parents! These longings are a big part of why it's hard to want to go to bed at night, hard to get dressed to go to day care or to Grandma's, and why it can even be upsetting to see Mommy or Daddy cuddling or talking on the telephone! Every child needs a chance to air his feelings about wanting more, indeed, about wanting all your time and attention.
A good way to help your child has two seemingly opposite steps. The first is to offer him Special Time during which you pour on your attention, your approval, and your closeness. You allow your child to choose what play he wants to do with you. 

You can start Special Time by saying expectantly, “OK, we have fifteen minutes, and I'll play with you any way you want to!” with a lively tone. Then, keep your attention focused on your child. Let the phone ring, and postpone your need to get a cup of tea during this time. 

It's surprisingly hard to do for us—because parenting is stressful, we almost always try to teach, try to direct, or try to get little jobs done while we're playing with our children! What Special Time does is to help your child, and you, too, notice that you are paying loving attention and letting him make decisions for awhile.
The second important step is to notice when your child longs for exclusive closeness with you. Is it when new people are around? Is it when you both arrive at day care or at the grandparents' house? Is it at bedtime, with pleas for story after story to keep you close?
When a child feels upset about a possible separation, however minor it may be, his feelings of needing you are ready to be released. He needs the reassurance that you love him and the chance to cry as long as possible to drain the reservoir of sadness about you going. 

He can best do that with you close, telling him: “I'm going to leave, but I'll come back. I'll always come back to you.” Or, in the case of bedtime: “You're safe here. I'll be in the next room, and I'll see you in the morning.” (See our article: "Healing the Hurt of Separation") If your child feels safe enough, he or she will cry, and the listening you do will help heal that feeling of never having enough of you.
These two steps, repeated over time, help prepare a child for the challenge of a sibling's demands on your attention.
Playfully reassure the older child
After a new sibling has arrived, an older child's feelings will be both large with love and wonder, and tight with upset about his sibling's intrusion into his relationship and time with you. One of the more fruitful ways to handle this is to find a way to play "I want you!" with your older child as often as possible.
"I want you" games come in a hundred variations. You could begin by getting down on the floor and announcing, “I have a hundred kisses for you! Where shall I start?!” and crawling awkwardly toward your child. You can make great efforts to get him and cuddle him, and then he can wriggle away and dance just out of reach, laughing while you try to deliver your kisses. 

Or play can be set up with both parents, one parent playfully pulling the child toward her and saying, “I want to play with Sam!” and the other pulling him back and saying, “No, you can't have him! I haven't had enough of him yet today!” If this playful tug-of-war brings laughter, keep playing! It fills up a child's hunger for attention and importance.
Another "I want you" game is to announce, “Where's Sam!? I have to find Sam! I'm lonesome for Sam!” and to search all around (even though Sam is in plain sight) until you discover him and scoop him up in your arms for lots of cuddles. Holding your older child like a baby, and appreciating his fingers, toes, perfect ears, and beautiful eyes is another kind of sweet play that reassures a child that his uniqueness hasn't been forgotten.
The laughter your child does while you playfully show that you can't live without him heals some of the hurt of seeing you attending the other child so often and so lovingly. And it gives you a delightful way to openly appreciate your older child.
Special Time will also help you center your attention on your older child at regular intervals during the week, helping both him and you to plump up your relationship and remember the love you have for each other.
Notice what goes well
Brothers and sisters want to get along. They want to have fun with each other. Often, we parents are so relieved to have things going well between our children that we don't notice the details of the generous and flexible moments between them. We use the times that go well between them to get our housework or phone calls or schoolwork done.
If you look carefully, you'll see sharing, assistance, and thoughtfulness at moments and in places you hadn't noticed before. Sometimes, these moments of brotherly and sisterly genius take place a split-second before the relationship deteriorates into a tangle. 

In spite of what follows, those few seconds were an effort, and an achievement. Your appreciation of the positive is a help to your children's relationship. “Jacquie, thanks for bringing your sister the brush. Now can you let her do her hair herself?” helps a child feel seen. Her effort to help is real, even if her follow-through leaves something to be desired.
When your child needs you and you can't help right away
When children cry for more closeness, or get upset because you can't help them right away, we have an excellent chance to help them to fully release the sadness they feel. When your older child feels needy, you can send him an invitation to be close. 

A loving look or a tender word, an invitation to come and snuggle your back or sit on your feet or be embraced by your one free arm says, "I want to help" even when you can't.
If your child begins to tantrum or cry, an excellent thing is happening! He's using the offer of closeness that you gave as the sweetness he needed to begin to release his pent-up feelings of upset. Sometimes children "work on" their feelings of helplessness, too, and feel like they can’t walk over to you. 

After they've cried a while, they'll rediscover their ability to walk again, and will have worked through some outdated feelings that were making them whiny and hard to live with.
Crying and tantrums heal the hurt, although by all appearances, your child feels worse than ever while it's happening. If you keep offering loving words and gentle looks while he works his feelings through, he'll feel closer to you and much relieved when he's done, and he won't be blaming his unhappiness on his sibling. His unhappiness will have been scrubbed away by the heartfelt emotional work he just did.
Key to this strategy is your understanding that your love is enough, even when you can't help right away. Your attention during an explosion of feelings (even from the other side of the room) is noticed by your child. Your voice and your eyes will convey your caring, and help to right the wrongs that your child is feeling. 

You are not neglecting him, nor are you causing more pain. While you patiently listen to a crying or tantruming child, you are doing a good job as a parent, and your child is doing a good job of getting rid of the bad feelings he doesn't want to live with.
What about the disputes?
In every family, pesky feelings of frustration and competition for attention and for toys disturb siblings' good intentions sooner or later. When there's a tug-of-war over you, or over a desired thing, you can help your children by listening the feelings through. 

Children can tolerate necessary unfairness (Daddy isn't going to give Sally the hammer because she could easily hurt herself, but Kenny can handle it) as long as the feelings of frustration or insult are heard. Feelings that are listened to all the way through are feelings that evaporate afterward. 

When you listen to crying or frustration, the child lets the awful feeling out, and your attention and caring then flow in. So siblings can get back to loving each other, even when you can't give them the same experiences, or the same amounts, or the same time, or the same toys.
A policy that reduces tension over time
The policy I like best about disputed items is that the child who has the item gets to keep it until he's done. Meanwhile, the parent "helps the other child wait" by making sure he is gently held if he tries to grab. 

The parent listens to the child's upset while he feels like he's never going to get his turn. The crying or tantrum drains the "I'm a victim" feelings, the "I never get what I want" feelings, and the "It isn't fair" feelings that often infect a sibling relationship, and turn it into a real power contest every day. All the parent needs to do is to listen to the feelings, and to keep giving the reassurance that, “You'll get a turn. He won't keep the red bike forever.”
As you'll see, the "unfairness" of Jasmine getting to the puzzle first today will let Jacquie work on her upsets, and Jacquie getting to the swing first tomorrow will let Jasmine work on her upsets. Cry by cry, both children have a chance to have your company and closeness while they work out their upsets about the other. 

Gradually, over time, this helps siblings develop patience and trust that, even if they can't have what they want right now, they are loved and will get a turn later. You have children who love each other, and by listening, you're helping them move big chunks of negative feelings out of the way of that love. The fun will follow.
When both children are pulling hard on the same item, an unusual but very effective strategy is to put your hand on the desired item, too, and say, “I'm sure you can figure out how to share this. I'm not going to let either of you grab it right now. You can figure this out.” 

Lots of crying and heated feelings will follow, and when one or the other child has cried enough to think clearly, a solution will appear. One child will decide to wait, or they'll begin negotiating with each other. It's so difficult to resist clamping a solution onto the problem right away! 

But allowing them to cry hard about their heated wants will make cooperation far more likely. And you won't be required to keep the peace between them, once they've cried enough to come to their own solution.
We adults have been trained to try to solve the dispute quickly so the feelings will subside. It's an emotional challenge for us to take the unusual tack that the feelings are the real issue, not the disputed item. 

When we listen instead of legislating turns, we bring our children some moments to feel loved while they feel sad or angry. This love and reassurance while they are upset sticks with them far longer than the five minutes of (usually defensive) fun with the toy, after which they are tense again over when they will get their next five minutes.
Here's how this can work:
My sons both love music, and have their favorite songs they like to play. One day, I came running when I heard screaming in their playroom. The music was on at a very high volume. I asked what the matter was, and each of them was frantic about the way he wanted the volume. One wanted it high, and the other wanted it low. They were both crying and screaming.
I wasn't sure how to help them, but I decided to see what would happen if they each had their way for a little while. I thought that if they could work out their feelings, then they would be able to come to some kind of agreement. So I said, "I think you can work this out between you. But first, I'm going to let you each see how the other one wants it. Jared, I'm going to turn the volume down, so Derrick has it his way for a little while.” I turned the volume down, and Derrick stopped crying, but Jared cried hard. He wanted me to turn it up immediately! I said, “No, I'll turn it up in a couple of minutes.” But I kept looking at him as lovingly as I could while he cried, so he wouldn't think I was punishing him.
After a few minutes of Jared feeling totally undone, I said to Derrick, OK, now, we're going to try it Jared's way for a few minutes. Here goes!” I turned the volume up. I stayed close and held Derrick while he cried and covered his ears. In my mind, I sided with Derrick, but the volume wasn't so bad that it hurt, so I let it be. Jared stopped crying, of course, and stood there listening intently. After a couple of minutes of Derrick crying and feeling like he couldn't stand the noise, I changed the volume again. I gave my attention to the one who felt awful. I think it took about three turns of two or three minutes each for them to scream and cry. Finally, when I turned the volume down, Jared didn't cry any longer. I asked him, “Is this OK now?” and he said, “Yes.” So I turned it up, and after a bit more of a cry, Derrick stopped and could stand to hear it loud at last. The emotions were taken care of, and I said, “OK, you guys. You can figure out where you want the volume now. You did a good job!” And I didn't have to control the volume any longer. They just fixed it and listened to their tape!
An ounce of prevention
Another important strategy for parents of siblings is to notice what the likely "fight times" are. Sometimes it's car rides, sometimes it's during before-dinner play, and sometimes it's when you've left them in a room together for more than five minutes. You know very well the patterns of upset they've developed.
We parents find ourselves upset and frustrated at our children when they fight, even when we know exactly when they always fight. We are better at keeping a level head if we give up hoping (beyond realistic hope) that a fight won't erupt. 

In a way, our own hopes can be as irrational as our children's fights. When their "gas gauge" is nearing empty, it's time to put in more attention. You are the one who can plump up their capacity for tolerance. They depend on their sense of connection with you for the wellbeing of their relationship with each other.
For instance, if your children traditionally get into trouble with each other right after you bring them home in the evening, try getting down on the floor to play with them right when you walk in the door, to re-establish your connection with each of them. 

You may need to have carrot sticks and peanut butter as car food on the way home, to handle the immediate hunger problem, so that dinner can be cooked after playful connections have been made. 

Games like, "I have ten kisses for each of you" or The Vigorous Snuggle can turn into contests that bring lots of laughter and reassurance after a day of being separated. Sometimes, children will work together to "keep you away," strengthening their bond as the powerful and clever children who can evade the kisses of their bumbling but determined parent.
Here's the story of one father who prepared himself mentally, and the good results he got from the listening he was able to do because he was ready for "trouble."
My son, who is older, and daughter were sitting at the table. It was dinnertime, and my son almost always finds a way to get upset with his sister at dinner! I prepared myself mentally beforehand, telling myself that their fight was going to happen, and that I could intervene without getting angry.
I sat my son right next to my daughter, instead of sitting between them—which I often do to try to keep a fight from happening. We hold hands before a meal, and take a moment to give thanks. So I said, “OK, let's hold hands.” My son immediately protested. I said, as gently as I could. “Come on, hold her hand now.” That's all it took to get them going.
My son said, “Don't force me!” And I said, “I'm not forcing you, but it would be good to hold your sister's hand.” I didn't make him do it, but I didn't give up on the idea that he could do it. He began to cry, and ran from the table. I followed after him into the next room, and he cried, saying that how his sister always hurts him and teases him and kicks him. I kept quiet about the things I know he does to her, and didn't argue at all, just listened to the wrongs he felt.
He cried for a long time. He didn't come back to the table a completely loving brother, but later that night, I heard him talking to her very sweetly, saying, “Do you want me to pick you up? Want me to carry you?” Normally he doesn't want to get physically close to her at all. And as I do more of this listening, I see that they're starting to play together more, and he's hugging her sometimes. It's unbelievable, actually! I'm really excited that things are loosening up between them.
It's a real challenge for us, because we are so tired of their fights and their attitudes toward each other. It's hard to be kind and gentle when the fights begin. But we're getting the payoff, bit by bit.
When one sibling is harsh toward another
Children who touch too roughly, or hug too tightly, or hit or poke or hurt their siblings are sending clear signals that they have some upsets that need to be listened to. Even very young children can be gentle with younger ones, as long as they are feeling "filled up" with attention, and relaxed. 

So any sign of harshness from one sibling to another can be taken as a sign that the child is not feeling connected or relaxed enough to function thoughtfully. When you notice that a child has been rough, scolding him or ordering him to do things correctly won't help. This only frightens your child more, and makes it less likely that he'll be able to act thoughtfully.
What does help is to move in quickly and gently. Very gently but firmly stop the tense child from touching the younger child, but don't remove him. Say, “I'll help you be next to Sammy,” and guide his hands or his kisses so that they land softly, Move so that you can make eye contact with the older child, and invite him kindly to take a look at you. 

Usually, because the child is tense with upset, he can't look at you for long, and when he tries, the upset begins to make him want to go away. Gently stay with him and keep him close, continuing to let him feel your attention and your support. 

Usually, the child will move rather quickly into a tantrum or a big cry about wanting you or not wanting you, or about wanting to touch the baby, or not wanting the baby. All those feelings are important facets of the nugget of upset he's trying to offload. If you stay with him, without criticism, he'll be able to cry or tantrum it through.
When our children hurt each other, we need help ourselves
Seeing one sibling hurt another is one of the most trying times in our lives as parents. It makes us feel like we aren’t succeeding at the really important part of parenting. And often, it sets us up to be harsh toward the child who did the hurting, even though we love that child deeply. 

Sometimes, when the hurting has become frequent, almost habitual, sibling troubles infect the way all the members of the family feel all of the time. As hard as these times are for us, we need to keep the perspective that they happen in just about every family. 

Perhaps we’ll come to a time in human history when life is so gentle that sibling aggression is rarer, but we’re not there yet.
One difficulty we have in finding good ways out of sibling tangles, little or big, is that we parents generally haven’t seen parents handle sibling difficulties without harshness. 

It feels like harshness is necessary, even justified, to get the aggression to stop. But if we reason things through, it’s hard to see how harshness from a grownup could beget love and tenderness between children. There must be a better answer.
And there is, but it’s not easy. I think the most effective answer lies off the beaten path of a parent’s life. Since it works so well, here goes.
When our children begin to fight and it creates upset in the family, it’s time for the parent looking for a solution to find a listener. Parents with fighting siblings get upset. Upset people don’t solve people problems well. 

We have to be able to win the hearts of our children back to us, before they can love each other well again. And to win a child’s heart, a grownup needs to shed his doubts about the goodness of the child. When our children fight, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that they are good children. 

When they fight, at least one of them is experiencing a blackout in his thinking. He hasn’t stopped being a good person, he’s just stopped thinking. It happens to us every day too. For example, when our children fight, we often stop thinking.
So a good first move is to find someone who can, without interruption, judgment, or advice, listen to you talk about the child who gets lost in upset. 

Some of the things to talk about are: 
What was it like for you and that child when he was born? 
When he was an infant? 
What was the last time you really felt close to him? Enjoyed him? 
What do you feel like doing when he hurts his sibling? What do you do? 
What would have happened to you if you had acted like he does when you were a child? 
What do you worry about? 
What hurts you or angers you when you see your children fighting?
Telling someone about each of these threads of experience and feeling will help. If you can show some of the feelings that arise, all the better. The feelings are sitting there, waiting for release.
Sometimes, it helps to talk about the situation several times. Don’ make your children listen to the stories you have. They are best saved for other adults.
When hurt has already happened
When you haven’t been able to get to your children in time to prevent blows from falling, you usually have one who is hurt and crying, and one who seems remote, uncaring, and defensive. And, truth be told, you usually have at least one really angry parent on hand, too! 

First, make sure no more harm can come. Separate the warring parties, so kicks can’t land and pinches flail in the air. You don’t have to move them into separate rooms, just put a foot or two of space between them.
Second, odd as it may seem, apologize. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner. I didn’t know you were getting upset,” goes a long way toward thawing out the child who did the hurting. 

When a child has hurt someone, he feels very badly about himself. But this doesn’t show at all—externally, this child is cool. He may say he doesn’t care, and he tries to mean it.
But actually, children don’t really want to hurt anyone. They are as mystified as you are about what makes them do these things. They feel guilty, and guilt paves over a person’s ability to feel anything. Guilt is like a heavy cement cover on the sadness and fears underneath the surface. 

When you apologize for not getting there in time to prevent harm, it helps move the guilt away from the aggressor child. With less guilt sitting on him, he'll be able to cry with you much sooner about the underlying feelings that drove him toward such hurtful behavior.
Your child is good
Sooner or later, every child with siblings gets upset with his brother or sister. But try to keep a good perspective: even when consumed with big feelings, your child is good. He's signaling you for help as clearly and as vigorously as he knows how. 

You may need some listening time from another adult to remember his goodness. Once your own upset isn't throbbing, you'll again be able to spend one-on-one time with him, a good first step toward healing his aching heart.