Blog : School

Sibling Rivalry in Early Childhood

Sibling Rivalry in Early Childhood

If you are a parent of more than one child than you most like have experienced sibling rivalry, that constant nagging, pushing the other person’s buttons, wanting what the other one has or can do, or the “he said/she said” scenarios! Sibling rivalry can be so frustrating for parents but I am sure it is frustrating and stressful for the siblings, too. Yet there can be a daily soap opera playing out before our eyes of the good, the bad and the ugly of sibling relationships.

We straight away wonder ‘Is it just our children? Why are THEY so bad?’

Social development of children starts right from birth. Babies hear our voices even when their eyes cannot see perfectly yet. This is the beginning of social interaction-listening to someone. They then move on to establishing eye-contact and then we see that first smile that shows the connection we have built in just a few weeks! This first year is all about the enjoyment of interdependence. In the following two years, we move on to more autonomy – children become more wilful and often this age is marked by what we call tantrums! During this time, we teach children to share, take turns and become more aware of the negative impacts of some of their actions. From 3-6 years, children show more initiative and purpose to what they are doing. They have developed a feeling of guilt if they have done something wrong.

Sibling Rivalry

When families grow and more siblings come along problems can occur right after birth of a new brother or sister. The other child has to adjust their position in the family hierarchy and this can lead to behavioural problems. As they get older sibling rivalry can present as jealousy, competition and in fighting with each other. Many parents are worried about this.

Children display sibling rivalry for many reasons: It can just be part of normal development. As children grow their own personality and become independent individuals they express this and it can clash with other individuals around them, in this case their siblings. The home environment is often a safe place for self-expression in a way children (and adults) would not act in public. As long as it is not harmful to them or others it can be seen as normal growth of their own identity and an experiment how to express this identity. However, aggression and physical fighting should not be seen as normal and must be addressed and redirected.

Other factors can influence sibling rivalry like the mentioned arrival of a new baby: if parents favour one child over another, which can often happen subconsciously, if parents or children are particularly stressed and have a short fuse, parents going through a separation can or major changes in a child’s life (death in the family, moving house/town).

Sibling Rivalry3

The way to address sibling rivalry is by spending equal amounts of quality time with each child. This can be tricky with the demands of younger children but often time can be spent after younger children have gone to bed or special one-on-one time can be scheduled maybe once a week like a date. Avoid favouritism and allow each child to develop their individual personality. Outbrakes of fighting, especially if they become physical, must be stopped and as parents it is our job to role model positive alternatives to fighting like having a civilised discussion where everyone will be heard and everyone can learn to make compromises. Parents can watch out for triggers like time of day, level of tiredness, stress factors like school or other issues in the children’s lives – these can be used to give early warnings to prevent a quarrel or fight. Some children may need extra help managing anger issues which can be provided by a specialist like a therapist or councillor.

In a quarrel help your child to express feelings rather than engaging in argument over who started it. Allow them to share their side of the story and support them to find resolutions. Aim for a win-win result but even if not everyone is happy at the end, it will be a long-term lesson in how to negotiate in an appropriate manner. Regular family meetings can be a helpful tool to bring everyone together and teach those skills.

Sibling Rivalry4

In time children will get to know each other better, accept each other’s differences and individuality and learn to avoid arguments in the first place. This should restore the peace in your house again!

Using Technology in Early Childhood and Child Care

Using Technology in Early Childhood and Child Care

“Hand up if you have ever given your child a mobile phone or tablet to play with, especially when you needed them to be quiet or occupied for a little bit longer?”

“Hand up again, if you felt a bit guilty for doing so?”

I bet many hands would go up to answer both questions! Technology is all around us these days. We love it and loathe it at the same time! Of course, technology is not just screen devices but when it comes to children that’s what we often think about. The use of screened items such as phones, tablets or computers help us every day to find information, or the way somewhere or it buys us that extra bit of quiet time when we allow our children to play on them. We try and choose “educational” games to make us feel better as we know “too much screen time is bad!” There are definite benefits of exposing children to modern technology but also the dangers of over-exposure.

Child with iPad

We see children, teenagers and even adults hovering over their phones and not acknowledging the world around them as they are so engrossed in what happens on that screen. Some children spend so much time on phones and tablets that it impacts their speech and social development, and their physical abilities. Even the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that his children would not be allowed to use an iPad! The Department of Health warns of the dangers of the negative impacts of being on devices for long periods of time, too. (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-indig-hb~inactivitiy They recommend no screen time for kids under 2 years and a max of up to 1 hour per day for children 2-5 years. One hour per day can actually be a lot!

Child with LightboxHowever, children are also very open to new technology and therefore adapt a lot quicker to the change that it brings. Fact is that this technology is here to stay and develop further. All the areas say that too much screen time can affect negatively it can also support for the better: Language development can be fostered through apps that teach early numeracy and literacy skills or even teach second languages.  The use of devices like the Wii can encourage children to become more physically active or the use of Skype can build a relationship with families living overseas. From the recommendations of the Department of Health it seems it is the balance that is important as well as how we use screen time.

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we spend daily time outside, even when the weather is not perfect. Fresh air, connecting with nature and physical gross motor activity is highly important for growing brains. Without this, children will not be ready to learn more detailed or complicated concepts and engage in fine motor activities that require higher concentration levels.

Children climbing tree

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we have introduced the use of iPads after discussing this with staff and families. Educators and children use them to record learning in all areas by writing observations and taking photos, we use them daily for our ELLA second language sessions for all Kindy children. IPads are also a tool for research – children ask many questions and educators show the young learners how to search for information.

The use of technology goes beyond the use of screen devises of course. At Parkside we have used traditional cameras, battery operated or remoted controlled toys, poChild with Mixer 2wer tools like a battery operated screw drivers (Mr Andrew likes to share his tools!), kitchen mixers or blenders, listening to CD stories or experimenting with light boxes.

The use of different technology inspires discussions with children about related topics like safety, life before modern technology, cyber safety or how things actually work.

So if you are in doubt about whether to allow your child the use of technology, especially screen devices, then ask yourself if their development will benefit from it or not. Also does your child spend regular time outside enjoying physical activities?

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we understand some parents’ worry about the over exposure to screen time. We carefully consider the benefits every time we use screens to ensure this time is spend as a teachable moment and benefits the child’s development. As part of our ‘School ready program’ we are committed to getting children prepared for the prep year. Children will begin using computers and tablets from day one at school and we want all our children entering prep being confident in using technology and screen devices.

 

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Getting My Child School Ready

Getting My Child School Ready

Entrance to school is a major mile stone in every child’s life – and in the parents’ too! For us grown-ups it’s the realisation that they are not little anymore!

Many children attend a Kindergarten Program before they start the Prep year at school. In Queensland the Queensland Kindergarten Program which is government funded can be joined in a sessional Kindergarten (usually 5 days in a fortnight) or in a long daycare setting like Parkside Early Learning Centre. Our centre is open from 6.30am to 6pm and our Kindy program runs within these hours every day from 8.30am to 4pm. This gives parents who are working or just need more than the sessional hours offered elsewhere a much greater flexibility.

The Kindergarten Program aims to support young learners from about the age of 3 ½ years old.

The Department of Education gives lots of helpful information about the Queensland Kindergarten Program on its website. The program intends to teach the following:

  • use language to communicate ideas, feelings and needs
  • make friends and cooperate with other children
  • become more independent and confident in their abilities
  • develop self-discipline
  • creatively express ideas and feelings through art, dance and dramatic play
  • identify, explore and solve problems
  • develop reading, writing and numeracy skills.

happy-child-at-a-desk

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we believe that the learning journey of getting ready for school begins much early than the year before school entrance. We focus our daily programs on ‘school readiness’ right from the time a child enrols with us.

In several meetings with local Prep teachers in Gympie we have asked what is the most important skills they would like to see in the students when they first start the prep year. Surprisingly they were not so worried about early numeracy and literacy skills which is often what we would expect. Of course, it is helpful when they can write their name, can count to 10 or know some of the letters of the Alphabet but what teachers would like to see most are self-help skills, being able to cope with a structured environment, emotional stability and positive social skills amongst others.

At Parkside Early Learning we focus from a young age on independence. When they are under 2 years old it’s all about attempting new skills – we encourage them to use their words, help with basic tasks like putting their sheets into their bags or putting their dirty dishes into our collection buckets and begin toileting independently. As they get older they extend their skills in all areas of development and we practise sharing and turn taking with others, basic manners, listen to stories and joining into songs. We foster an interest in learning by providing for their interests and curiosity. Before they enter school we expect them to be able to use scissors, have a good pencil grip, be articulate with clear speech, cope well with transitions, be able to cope in a positive manner with emotional upsets or conflict and to carry out tasks with less teacher input and supervision (we are of course always there to give a helping hand). If educators or parents have any concerns on the way of getting ‘school ready’ we work together and may refer to a specialist as it’s always best to get issues checked out early to have a positive start at school.

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So, as you can see these skills cannot just be achieved in one year of Kindergarten, it is a learning journey that starts from birth but recent research has shown the benefits of an earlier start and more time at a Kindergarten Program. It has proven to give children a better start to the prep-year as well as given them the long term skills to cope better in school and life compared to their peers who have not attended a Kindergarten Program.*

We strongly urge you to enrol your child in a quality early childcare setting like Parkside Early Learning Centre long before they enter school to ensure a positive start at Prep and to build a skill base that will last a life time! To explore the what makes Parkside Early Learning Centre different please refer to our unique benefits page

 

* Research summary of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Institute of Family Studies http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2012/ctgc-rs15.pdf

 

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