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12 things to teach your child about sleep that might help with bedtime

12 things to teach your child about sleep that might help with bedtime

How to teach your child about the importance of sleep

As parents, it’s important for us to help our children get enough sleep. This means we need to teach young people about sleep; why sleep is important and strategies to use to get enough.

But other than “you need to get enough sleep” – what exactly should we be telling them? What do they need to know?

We asked Developing Minds to talk us through some important sleep concepts children and teens should know about and the words you can use to teach them about these concepts.

1. “Some people need more sleep, and some need less. The best way to know if you haven’t got enough sleep is whether you are sleepy the next day.”

Young people (and sometimes adults too) can get fixated on how many “numbers” of hours of sleep they need. Unfortunately it’s not this simple. There have been more than one hundred different sets of guidelines published by many different health bodies over the last hundred years. Also, some young people need more sleep than average, and some need less.

The best guide for all of us (at any age) to know if we are getting enough sleep is daytime sleepiness. If we are sleepy and tired during the day, then we probably need more sleep.

Helping children and teens notice their daytime sleepiness is important, as often chronically sleep deprived young people are so accustomed to the feeling of being sleepy that they don’t realise this is not normal.

2. “It’s normal to wake up during the night – we all wake up (very briefly) every 90 minutes.”

Some children and teens are very worried about waking up at night, and think it’s abnormal to do so. For these young people, it can be useful to tell them we have “sleep cycles” of about 90 minutes, that we all wake (often so briefly that we don’t remember it) every 90 minutes and this in itself is not a problem

3. “When we don’t get enough sleep, we will have more problems remembering information, learning new ideas, feeling relaxed and happy, staying fit, recovering from illnesses, playing sport, moving and reacting quickly”

Some (not all) young people need more motivation to address their sleep habits. For these children and teens, it’s important for us to explain the sufficient range of problems associated with sleep deprivation.

Sometimes as parents, we just touch on one problem associated with sleep deprivation. For example we might just say “if you don’t get enough sleep you will be grumpy tomorrow”. Unfortunately, given that changing sleep habits can be hard and involve a lot of sacrifice, it’s important for them to know exactly why working on sleep will be beneficial for them.

Finding out what each young person cares most about – and then explaining the effect of sleep deprivation in that particular area – can be useful. For example, some young people are highly motivated to do well in sport – and explaining research on strength and speech will help this young person. Some young people are highly motivated to feel less anxious and sad – helping these young people understand the effects of sleep deprivation on mood is more useful.

Of course this is only an important topic of conversation if in fact the young person is NOT motivated to look at sleep habits. Some young people are anxious about their sleep and already motivated to get more sleep, in which case detailed explanations like this only make them feel more anxious and should be avoided.

4. “One good way to get to sleep more easily at night is to regularly get up earlier in the morning – and then move around, get into light and eat first thing the next day.”

If children and teens don’t have any problems getting to sleep at night, then it can be fine to for them to “sleep in” in the morning. If they do have problems getting to sleep however, then sleeping late in the morning – even if it’s just on weekends – will often mean they have trouble getting to sleep again the next night.

It’s important for us as parents to teach young people that sleeping in excessively late on the weekends can be negatively affecting their sleep.

It’s also important for us to tell young people, once they get up, that they need to be “resetting” their body clock so their body knows it is day time straight away. This means turning on some bright lights (or opening blinds to let sunlight in), having breakfast and even doing some light exercise if this works with their routine. Resetting their body clock early in the morning like this, helps them get to sleep earlier at night.

5 “Another good way of getting to sleep more easily at night is to do more exercise during the day”.

The more minutes of exercise children and teens do during the day the quicker they fall asleep at night. The only exception to this is team sports played very late at night – unfortunately these delay sleep. Otherwise, encouraging our children to do more exercise, sport and incidental movement during the day has a direct positive effect on sleep. Telling them this can be useful so they can look out for exercise opportunities during the day too.

6. “Be really careful about taking naps during the day. Short naps can be great if you don’t have problems sleeping. If you do have problems sleeping then even a short one can make it harder to get to sleep at night.”

Teens in particular who sleep during frees or after school, or during the afternoon on the weekend will often have more trouble getting to sleep at night than those who don’t do this. They then don’t have enough “sleep debt” built up by night time to get to sleep – stay awake until very late – and then have trouble getting up in the morning. And the cycle repeats itself. It’s important we let teens know about the potential dangers of naps.

7. “We need to be careful about how much screen time we have during the day and at night. Looking at blue light from phones or laptops might be “turning down” a “sleep hormone” called melatonin and this makes us feel more alert.”

There are now several years of studies which show an association between electronic device use and sleep quality and quantity. Some preliminary studies have shown that even a “quick” look at our devices in the middle of the night can interfere with not only getting back to sleep, but getting enough “slow wave” (deep) sleep.

Explaining these experiments to children and teens, and telling them about sleep hormones increases their understanding about family rules about “switch off” times. Of course most young people are not motivated by themselves to turn off these highly pleasurable and fun social media, gaming devices – but knowing the research behind it can reduce the arguments when we are parents put the rules in place.

8. “When you go to bed, make sure your room is really dark, cool and quiet.”

Even small amounts of light and heat can reduce sleep hormones. We need to help our children cover up clock lights, close the door, take off a blanket and even use ear plugs if needed. It’s important for young people to know this so they can adjust their own body temperature as needed.

9. “When you go to bed. Close your eyes, relax your muscles and stay as still as you can. Test yourself to stay super still for a minute or two and then wriggle around if you need to and then try to stay super still again.”

It’s amazing how many children don’t know this basic fact: you can’t get to sleep when you are moving around. Of course, staying really still in bed is a struggle for some young people for a range of reasons. Helping them learn to do this is a slow process – but it’s important to be working on it.

10. One way of helping yourself get to sleep is to say calm thoughts to yourself about getting to sleep or make calm pictures or images to put in your head.

Kids and teens need coaching about specific “getting to sleep strategies” like using calm thoughts and imagery. It sounds simple, but some young people don’t know what to put in their head when they are trying to get to sleep. Teaching them to say calm thoughts to themselves, use their imagination to visualise calm scenery or “mini movies”, or go over a book/TV show can be really helpful. Some young people also feel really anxious about NOT being able to get to sleep and need to create some calm thoughts about sleep itself like “I’m ok”; “I’m getting better at getting to sleep all the time”, “My muscles are getting more and more relaxed”. Share with them what you do in your head when you can’t sleep.

11. “If you can’t get to sleep within about 20-30 mins of having your eyes closed and being really still, get up and do something boring for a few minutes, and then try again.”

Staying in bed for hours trying to get to sleep is agonising, miserable and counter-productive. It can be convenient and comforting for us as parents to know our children and teens are in bed, however if they are lying awake for long periods of time this means they are setting up an unconscious association between being awake and in bed, which will cause more problems.

If children and teens have genuinely been lying still, with eyes closed (not on their phone/devices), and with a relaxed body, late enough at night – and are not asleep, it’s better for them in the long run if they get up, do something boring (do some stretches, walk to the bathroom and back, look at a magazine or book (not TV or an electronic device) and then try again 15 minutes later.

We want to teach them to do this independently however rather than need our input (ie have a written “can’t get to sleep plan” in their bedroom which they need to follow before asking for parent help – but how successfully they can do this will depend on their age.

12. “Have trouble with sleep? You’re not alone. It’s not easy – and it takes practice”

Depending on the study you look at, approximately 50% of kids and teens have regular problems getting enough sleep. It’s important we let young people know that there is nothing (necessarily) seriously or unusually wrong with them, that difficult with sleep is very common. We need to tell young people that learning to get enough sleep is like learning to manage our physical fitness, or learning to read – or any other tricky area of life.

It takes some time, effort and sacrifice. We should teach our young people to be patient with themselves as they learn getting these sleep skills.

About Developing Minds

developing minds logo

Children and teens experience tough times just like adults do. They feel sad, worried, stressed, angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. They don’t quite know how to cope with stress, they need help learning to act in positive ways, they struggle with relationships and benefit from support in many other ways.

Developing Minds specialise in helping children and teens – and the people who support them. For nearly 20 years, Developing Minds Psychology and Education has cared for, supported and worked with thousands of South Australian children and young people. Working with children ranging from the age of 4 through to 17, the team are fully qualified child psychologists and work with children and teens, and then depending on their age, also with their parents. If appropriate we also work with schools and other supports. We have two clinics in Adelaide (city and south).


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What now? Coming to terms with a developmental delay diagnosis

What now? Coming to terms with a developmental delay diagnosis

What now? Coming to terms with a developmental delay diagnosis

WORDS: Sam Boag – Physiotherapist and Director I Can Jump Puddles

So, your child has recently been diagnosed with developmental delay… what do you do now?

Regardless of how a parent reacts or feels, a diagnosis can actually be a positive turn in a child’s life.

Here are some tips from I Can Jump Puddles Director, Sam Boag.

Focus on the Strengths

Your child is still your child. Try not to get caught up in the fear of the future that you forget that the sweet baby you fell in love with is still right in front of you. A diagnosis does not define who they are. Focus on what your child can do, not what they can’t.  It’s okay to feel like it is unfair that your child has been diagnosed at such a young age – but remember – early intervention is crucial and the earlier, the better.

Prepare for Early Intervention

Early intervention is the best way to support the development and wellbeing of children with a disability. It can support the child’s development of functional skills they need to take part and be included in everyday activities. There are many different therapies used as part of early intervention which focus on developmental areas in different ways.

Our services at I Can Jump Puddles follows a transdisciplinary approach using a Key Worker. We aim to enhance the development of the child through their daily life, using people already in the child’s support network. Engaging in a range of therapeutic providers can be stressful and scary. Our approach ensures that the most appropriate therapists are involved in your child’s team so that each support worker is cohesively working towards the same goals. A Key Worker may be an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker, developmental educator or psychologist.

Look After Yourself

Your child’s needs seem critical and it is natural that you want to try and get every intervention and therapy into place – yet running until you drop will not be beneficial for anyone. Peer support is extremely different from professional support. Speaking to people in a similar situation and sharing stories makes a big difference in your own wellbeing. Our Now and Next Program is designed to educate and empower parents to achieve positive outcomes for their child with disability, their family and themselves. Read more about it at our website.

 Most importantly, remember that your unconditional love and acceptance for your child is what matters most. You’ve got this.


About Sam Boag from I Can Jump Puddles

Sam Boag is a qualified physiotherapist with more than 20 years of experience in the health and disability services sector. She founded I Can Jump Puddles in 2018. Sam has a thorough understanding of the NDIS and is a passionate advocate of helping those with additional needs access their local community and feel included. She is a kind, caring and knowledgeable expert on all things NDIS.

For more information:

8355 7465


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Connection through Community: Nazareth Catholic College

Connection through Community: Nazareth Catholic College

Creating communities of faith and wellbeing is at the heart of the Nazareth Catholic Community vision

Connecting faith, family and education

Nurturing the importance of family life beyond the school gate is about bringing families into a community of welcome and connection, and providing a sense of belonging to each individual, that spans across their whole life journey.

Families are at the heart of Nazareth. When you choose to enter into the vibrant Catholic community, you’re choosing to enrich your family life with support, guidance, acceptance and encouragement, across not only your child’s educational opportunities but also your whole family experience.

Excellence in Learning and Success for All

Nazareth Catholic Community celebrates the individuality of all young people and strives for success for all. This core intention is achieved by cultivating high quality teaching and learning programs, allowing for innovation, exploration, creativity, diversity and inclusivity.

Young people are engaged with a holistic and integrated approach to the curriculum and learning pathways that help them be people of justice, who respond to social and environmental needs. Underpinned by strong home, school and community values and engagement, the partnership between staff, students, young people and families ensures everyone is striving for the same outcomes and are working to achieve them.

The community at Nazareth strives to foster learning opportunities that are life-giving and lifelong. From a newborn baby, to the longest serving senior members of the community, Nazareth upholds a core belief that everyone has something precious and unique to contribute.

But the heart of success goes further than excellent academic outcomes, and as such young people at Nazareth are encouraged not only to realise their full potential, but are also inspired to become role models and thought leaders committed to positive change.

Two campuses, one community

Nazareth Catholic Community boasts two beautiful campuses in Findon and Flinders Park, across which you will find the Reception to Year 12 College, the Early Childhood Centre as well as a variety of Community Services Programs.

Findon Campus, 176 Crittenden Road

On this campus you will find:
Early Childhood Centre, Nazareth Catholic College Reception – Year 6 & Community Services

Flinders Park Campus, 1 Hartley Road

On this campus you will find:
Nazareth Catholic College Year 7 – 12 & Community Services

By enrolling at Nazareth your whole-of-life journey begins.

Nazareth is currently enrolling for Reception and Year 7 in 2023 and beyond.

Applications due by 18 December 2020.

For further enrolment information:

The wonderful world of Teletherapy

The wonderful world of Teletherapy


What parents need to know about teletherapy

Words: Lauren Jones, Senior Speech Language Pathologist, Spot Paediatrics

It’s likely that most of us have heard the term “teletherapy” much more in recent months, and while teletherapy or telehealth is not new in the therapy space, this is the first time we have seen these services used on such a wide scale.

For those of us in the paediatric allied health sector, teletherapy has not only changed the therapy realm but it has also allowed us to continue to support our clients in this upside-down world. But for many the question still remains: what is teletherapy and what does it actually look like?

What is teletherapy?

Teletherapy is therapy that is delivered via video conference – something we’ve all become quite familiar with!

While professionals may use different programs to deliver the service (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype) it all looks relatively similar.

Teletherapy sessions are also essentially the same as when clients are face to face in the clinic – we target our goals, complete activities, have conversations, and even still manage to have a lot of fun!

The effectiveness of teletherapy is also well documented, and studies have shown that children continue to show improved outcomes. It’s also supported by Speech Pathology Australia, Occupational Therapy Australia, and the Allied Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

teletherapy spot paediatrics

So how easy is it for families to actually get started with Teletherapy?

Well, if you have a device with microphone and webcam, and an internet connection you’ll be up and running within minutes!

While computers and tablets seem to work best, many have even managed successful sessions via smartphone.

Once the device is set up, children just need a quiet environment, or limited distractions, and support from an adult to ensure everything runs smoothly.

What have many of us learned from Teletherapy?

Our kiddos are amazing and resilient!

Despite the reservations that professionals and parents alike have felt, there are an abundance of telehealth success stories with children of diverse ages and needs. What’s more, while many clinicians may have felt like fish out of water as we navigated new resources and technical glitches, it’s been exciting for therapists to upskill, learn new techniques, and connect more readily with other professionals. We have also been inspired by observing our children in their own environments and that we continue to see parents unwavering in their commitment to therapy, even in these crazy times.

While we don’t know what the next few months has in store for us, the world of telehealth is here to stay!

Why not give it a try?


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Alive Catholic Early Learning: Where Futures Begin

Alive Catholic Early Learning: Where Futures Begin

Alive catholic early learning

Alive Catholic Early Learning:
How Children Learn, Shapes who they become

Every child is alive with curiosity, wonder, imagination and ideas about the world.

Alive is a network of Catholic Early Learning Centres, committed to creating positive early learning and preschool (kindergarten) experiences for children from 6 months to 5 years old.

Specialists in early childhood education, each early learning centre in the Alive network is uniquely architecturally designed with children in mind and co-located with a school allowing for a single drop-off and pick-up.

Alive centres offer a holistic approach to education, personalised to the unique needs of each child and family, regardless of their primary or secondary education choices or faith.

Enrolling your child at an Alive Early Learning Centre opens the door to the whole family; not just your child. Community values and inclusivity are at the heart of the Alive experience, and each centre presents a supportive network for families, committed to actively engaging your child, and your family, in the joy of learning and living.

Explore, relate, grow, develop

The learning spaces of the centres in the Alive network encourage cooperation and collaboration between children of different ages. One of the core philosophies behind the Alive concept is the belief that how children learn, shapes who they become; creating these positive learning pathways by fostering constructive, caring social interactions gives children the opportunity to relate, grow and learn at their own pace, encouraged by those around them.

Gemma D’Angelo (General Manager, Alive) talks to us about the Alive experience:

What are the philosophies at the heart of the Alive network of Catholic Early Learning Centres?

Excellence in Early Childhood education lays a foundation for all future learning, which is why we develop learning programs for children from 6 months of age. Throughout the program children have a range of opportunities to explore and grow in their understanding about themselves, others and the world around them. We believe that every child is a unique learner, with their own capabilities and unlimited potential.

As educators our work is guided by our relationships with each child and their family. The quality of our relationships, together with our commitment and expertise in Early Childhood Education, means that each child engages in a learning program that is designed for them.

What can parents expect when they enrol their child into an Alive Early Learning Centre?

A personal welcome, a genuine interest in their family and their child, a commitment to actively supporting their child’s development from 6 months to 5 years and a seamless transition to school.

Those children who continue at the Catholic School we are co-located with, have the experience of engaging with that school community throughout their time in early learning. This ongoing connection ensures a very smooth transition to school.

When children are transitioning to a school on a different site, we work to develop a relationship with their school so that their transition can be as smooth as possible.

What is unique about what the Alive centres offer families who are enrolling?

Alive in collaboration with Catholic Education offer families a learning pathway for their children from 6 months through to Year 12.

Our early learning program provides a clear curriculum for children from 6 months and parents have access to their child’s learning program.

Our educational practice caters for the whole child because each component of a child’s development is important. We cater for children’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual development.

During our tours families have the opportunity to observe the positive relationships between children and staff, and see the various aspects of our curriculum that children explore each day.

What are the physical spaces of the centres like and how do they engage the children in different types of play and learning?

Our physical spaces are architecturally designed with the developmental needs of children in mind. Our large open spaces ensure that children have plenty of space to engage with various materials and develop their understandings in Literacy, Numeracy, STEM, Movement and Art.

The deliberate organisation of our spaces encourages interaction between children of different ages. These social interactions also promote the capabilities of very young children in the way that they relate and learn. All of the positive relationships at Alive provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to thrive in each day.

The Alive curriculum includes a focus on:

  • Social and emotional learning
  • Movement
  • STEM
  • Numeracy
  • Literacy
  • Arts and expression
  • Spirituality

Alive Early Learning Centres:

Mount Barker (opening January 2021)
Parafield Gardens

For more information:

13 ideas to reduce constant sibling fighting

13 ideas to reduce constant sibling fighting

siblings fighting

Sibling Rivalry: How to help with constant sibling fighting

Siblings fighting. It drives parents crazy and makes family dynamics difficult and, at times, stressful. Why can’t they just get along?

Whether it’s fighting over the TV remote, or who is using what colour texta, or bigger issues like power dynamics between older and younger siblings, sibling rivalry affects all of us at one point or another in our lives and, as parents, we just want them to get along for five minutes!

We asked Developing Minds to talk us through some ideas on how to encourage our kids to get along and what to do and say when we need to intervene.

13 Ideas for When Siblings Fight

Parents report that fights amongst brothers and sisters are one of the most painful parts of parenting. Some research has found that, depending on their age, on average, kids fight for about 10 minutes of every hour they play together. There are no quick and easy solutions to sibling conflict, but I’ve listed a few key ideas to keep in mind.

1. It’s normal for siblings to fight

All siblings fight. Actually, all animals fight. We have a built in instinct to fight to get what we want and to try to be dominant in some way. Adults have similar feelings of annoyance and displeasure with people, it is just that we have learnt to hide it! So if your children argue, bicker and fight with each other, you are not alone. And your kids are normal.

sibling rivalry

2. There are some good things about siblings fighting

Fighting amongst siblings can lead to positive outcomes. It helps children and young people learn a number of skills including:

  • mediation
  • conflict resolution
  • anger management
  • dealing with not getting own way
  • managing disappointment
  • learning that the world is not fair

Imagine if your child never experienced any conflict or fights: what a missed opportunity for learning. If we can think of every fight between siblings being a potential learning experience for children, it takes away the need for us as parents to try to eliminate the fights completely, but instead simply try to reduce the number or intensity of them.

3. Try to reduce the sources of the conflict

For a week, record what exactly is being fought about. Then analyse your data. Do the same old fights happen again and again? For these “regular” fights, see whether some kind of system or routine can be put in place. For example, are there fights over TV/phone/computer use? Draw up a regular routine that eliminates any possibility of negotiation or confusion. For instance: “Child X has the computer between 4pm-5pm and child Y has it between 5pm-6pm. The computer is not used at any other time. If child X stays on the computer after 5pm then he forfeits his right to the computer the following evening, as does child Y if she tries to use the computer before 5pm. The kitchen oven clock is the agreed upon timing device.” Are there continual fights about shared room/drawer spaces? Draw up a visual plan of who gets what space and at what times. Ask the siblings to help you come up with these routines and systems and then make sure they are written down.

Some parents say, “but they should just have to learn to share”. People do have to learn to share and take turns it is true. But this is hard enough for adults to do, let alone children. Let’s give them a break and make it easier by reducing the conflict at least some of the time – there will be plenty of time to learn to share and take turns as they get older.

siblings always fighting

4. Help Children Avoid the Trouble Times/Spots

In the same way, analyse the times and places that siblings fight. Do your siblings always fight just before tea time? Do they always fight on long car trips together? Does the last week of the school holidays consist of world war three? If you know conflict is likely to happen at certain times and in certain situations, see whether any of these situations can be avoided in the first place. Would allowing a special DVD or another engaging activity for the 30 minutes before tea be helpful? Can the budget stretch to handheld games or personal CD players for the car on long trips? Is a school holiday program for one or more children a possibility in the last week? If you can help kids avoid triggers for fights, you are doing everyone a favour – although fighting can be positive as outlined above, endless and constant arguments are NOT good for kids (or the parents who have to listen to them).

5. If there is one “antagoniser” much of the time

Is there one child who seems to always be causing fights? One on one time with this child is needed to try and help him/her feel more secure, and to attempt to discover what is behind the antagonising. Be careful however, as sometimes the child who appears to be the antagoniser is being quietly teased and tormented by another sibling, and is simply less subtle about their own behaviour when they lash out.

6. We must teach kids conflict resolution skills – but before and after the fight is best, not during

Just as we teach our children how to read, use a knife and fork and how to catch a ball, we should be teaching them conflict resolution skills. The best time to do this is when there are no fights happening at that particular moment. Younger children benefit from brainstorming and role playing. Teach and give options for what to do when they feel hard done by. Teach and give options for what to do when they feel frustrated.

Older children learn through parents describing what works for them, and generating discussion. Help them identify what helps them when they feel exasperated. Help them think about options for when they feel things are not fair. Teaching conflict resolution and anger management skills is an ongoing task. Do it explicitly and regularly – don’t just hope they pick it up as they go along.

7. Give children a good reason for them to make the (big) effort to resolve conflict

For some squabbling, it is worth allowing children the opportunity to “work it out” themselves. Remember this is a huge effort for kids, and there has to be some reason in their minds to make this effort. One strategy is to tell them they have five minutes to resolve the conflict on their own and if it is not done by this time, the toy will be taken away, computer switched off or both be in time out. Alternatively, you might provide a reward: for example, tell them they have five minutes to resolve the issue and if they do so successfully they can both watch a video or go to the shops with you. Also remind them of the benefits for themselves of resolving the conflict, (“hey you guys because you sorted that out yourself, now you have more time to play”).

For younger children, you might need to intervene to some minor extent to “coach” them through the resolution process, but over time (and with older children and teenagers) you might more regularly insist they do it themselves. In any case however, watch closely and notice the areas in which they need additional conflict resolution/anger management skills, and work on these at the next opportunity (when there is no fight happening).

siblings fighting

8. Sometimes, try removing the audience

If fights go on and on, cheerfully tell them they can keep on fighting as long as they want – but outside (hopefully in the cold). Alternatively, walk away yourself. If you are pretty sure that no-one will get hurt, simply removing the audience to their fights can sometimes stop some arguments.

9. Notice and praise co-operative play

We need to make sure we notice co-operative play. When children are playing well together, notice. Make a point of commenting appreciatively and thanking them. Point out the benefits for them and yourself of the peaceful times. Sometimes the only attention children get is when they are fighting. This sets up a negative cycle.

siblings dont like each other

10. Don’t forget children need time apart

Encourage all members of the family to have time alone without siblings around. Being alone is an important skill. Also, when children have spent time apart they are often more likely to get along with family members when they get back together. It is important for each child in the family to have their own hobbies, interests and time spent doing things apart from the rest of the family. It might even be “room time” where each child spends time in their own (or a separate) room, not as a punishment but simply to break up the time spent together.

11. Violence is not negotiable

All children in the family should know that there are certain house rules that are not negotiable. These can include – any physical violence (including pushing and jostling), name calling, swearing at someone, taunting and yelling. There should be an immediate consequence (known by all parties in advance) for these behaviours which is consistently and decisively applied every single time it occurs.

12. Look “deeper”: what is really going on?

Sometimes siblings fight as a way of expressing stress and sadness in their own life. When siblings are constantly fighting, check out how things are going for them in other areas. Spend one on one time with each child or young person and give them the opportunity to talk. Is the older child feeling imposed upon by the younger child, or do they feel too responsible for the younger child? Is the younger child feeling intimidated by or jealous of the older child? Sometimes children and young people have genuine grievances against another sibling. It is important we give them space to air these – not in the midst of an argument – but one on one at a later time.

13. Children often need help initiating and maintaining play ideas

Often the best way to reduce conflict, is to focus less on conflict resolution and more on increasing the positive interactions between kids. The most positive sibling relationships are not necessarily those without fights – they are the ones where there is conflict AND fun.

Siblings sometimes need help in working out how to start games that are appropriate for both ages, how to play together in ways which are fun and kind. We need to step in before the fights happen and give some ideas (words to say and things to do) to help them learn to do this.

For extra help in dealing with children who constantly argue, consider going to counselling.

Calm Kid Central has a video for parents/carers on helping siblings get along and have fewer fights.



developing minds logo

Children and teens experience tough times just like adults do. They feel sad, worried, stressed, angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. They don’t quite know how to cope with stress, they need help learning to act in positive ways, they struggle with relationships and benefit from support in many other ways.

Developing Minds specialise in helping children and teens – and the people who support them. For nearly 20 years, Developing Minds Psychology and Education has cared for, supported and worked with thousands of South Australian children and young people. Working with children ranging from the age of 4 through to 17, the team are fully qualified child psychologists and work with children and teens, and then depending on their age, also with their parents. If appropriate we also work with schools and other supports. We have two clinics in Adelaide (city and south).


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