Because I Said So Family Squabbles How to Handle Them

by Charlie Woglom, Lauri Berkenkamp, and Steven

Author Charlie Woglom Lauri Berkenkamp and Steven C Atkins PsyD Isbn 978 0965925853 File size 6MB Year 2003 Pages 128 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship For parents everywhere whose kids complain about helping around the house stall over homework and bicker with one other help is at hand With compassion and humor this book takes on the most common points of kid induced friction those altercations and annoying behaviors that drive parents most nuts and offer

Publisher :

Author : Charlie Woglom, Lauri Berkenkamp, and Steven C. Atkins PsyD

ISBN : 978 0965925853

Year : 2003

Language: English

File Size : 6MB

Category : Family and Friendship



Be sure to look for these titles
in the Go Parents! series:

Teaching Your Children Good Manners
will help make teaching your children the
basics of good manners an entertaining and
(relatively) painless experience.

Talking to Your Kids About Sex: From
Toddlers to Preteens takes a common-sense,
practical approach to helping parents talk to
children of a variety of ages and developmental levels about a topic that makes many
people uncomfortable.

Kid Disasters and How to Fix Them
takes on the common–and not so
common–household disasters kids can
cause, and provides hands-on, common
sense solutions that really work.



a Go Parents! guide

Nomad Press
A division of Nomad Communications
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright © 2003 Nomad Press
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from
the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
The trademark “Nomad Press” and the Nomad Press logo are trademarks of
Nomad Communications, Inc. “a Go Parents! guide™” is a trademark of
Nomad Communications, Inc. Printed in the United States.
ISBN 0-9659258-5-4
Questions regarding the ordering of this book should be addressed to
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Cover artwork and interior illustrations by Charles Woglom, Big Hed Designs
Design by Bruce Leasure
Edited by Susan Hale and Anna Typrowicz
Nomad Press, PO Box 875, Norwich, VT 05055
www.nomadpress.net

To Lisa and J, who taught me everything I know
about sibling rivalry
—LB

For Free
—SCA

Acknowledgments
Thanks to Steve Atkins, Charlie Woglom, Rachel Benoit, Susan
Hale, Anna Typrowicz, Bruce Leasure, and everyone at Nomad
Press for their suggestions, contributions and good humor during
the production of this book. Thanks also to Richard, Sasha, Noah,
and Simon, who can squabble with the best of them.
—LB

A heart felt “Thank You” to the families who have contributed to
my clinical skills. These families continue to enhance my understanding of the "systemic dance" we all do.
I also want to recognize Staci, who I am proud to have as a sister
and as one of my closest friends—despite the “family squabbles”
we went through as kids. Let the record show that I freely
acknowledge that most of our childhood squabbles may have
been generated by me, her big brother. Staci is a model parent,
teacher, and caring community member. We should all be so
wealthy to have little sisters like mine.
—SCA

Table of Contents
Introduction

Page 1

“Because I Said So! That’s Why!”

Section 1

Page 5

I Am Going to Turn This Car Around!

Section 2

Page 33
Nag, Nag, Nag

Section 3

Page 61
Crime and Punishment

Appendix

Page 91

Ideas and Suggestions for Family Serenity

“Because I Said So! That’s Why!”
You open up the doors to your minivan and discover that the
interior of your car is a rolling Superfund site. Backpacks, candy
wrappers, old juice boxes, and random pieces of paper are
strewn from end to end, so you go back inside and ask your kids
to clean it out. Before you can finish saying, “Clean out the car”
your kids start arguing.
“Why do I have to do it?” “I never leave a mess in the car.” “The
car’s not that dirty—you can just step over that stuff, anyway.”
“It’s too hot in the car! I’ll get sick to my stomach.” “I don’t know
how to clean it up. I’m too little.”
No labor lawyer on earth could outlast your children in negotiations over why they shouldn’t perform the task you ask them to
accomplish. You are stuck either doing the job yourself because it
takes less time than arguing with your little Johnnie Cochrans, or
resorting to your favorite phrase, “Why do you have to do it?
Because I said so!”

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Sound familiar? Don’t worry—help is at hand. “Because I Said
So!” Family Squabbles and How to Handle Them takes on
the most common areas of family friction—those altercations and
annoying behaviors that drive parents nuts—and offers quick and
practical advice for how to handle them.
Everyday squabbles, from hassles over homework to kids who
break their curfew or tattle on one another are covered in detail,
complete with solutions, helpful hints, and interesting bits of
information that you never thought you’d need—until you became
a parent.

How to Use This Book
This book should be used as a guide; the squabbles depicted
here have actually happened and certainly will again. The
solutions are based on solid advice and common sense, and
acknowledge that while family squabbles may drive you nuts,
they can make you laugh—eventually.
The book is divided loosely into sections that address family
squabbles in similar areas. Wondering how to avoid resorting to
threats to get your kids to behave? Look in Section 1: I Am
Going to Turn This Car Around! for solutions to problems with
bickering, tattling, and general family mayhem. Section 2: Nag,

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Nag, Nag has advice and suggestions for helping your family
work together to keep the household running smoothly, and
Section 3: Crime and Punishment addresses those times when
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness run afoul of family law.
Finally, the last section, Ideas and Suggestions for Family
Serenity is an appendix that offers advice and helpful hints for
maintaining your family’s sanity, including a list of age-appropriate
household chores and suggestions for family rules.

Surviving Family Squabbles
Whether you’re facing off against your mutinous preteen, dealing
with an adolescent on hormone overload, or trying to cope with
your “No, no, no!”-torious toddler, keep in mind the following survival skills to get you through the trying times of being a parent.
Know when to say when. Sometimes the hardest thing for kids
is to back away from a confrontational situation, so make it easier
by stepping aside first.
Keep the lines of communication open. Your kids may be
driving you nuts because they have stuff on their mind that they
aren’t ready to talk about—or don’t even know is bothering them.
Listen carefully to what they say to you, and let them finish griping
or explaining before you jump in either to dismiss or try to solve
their problem. Sometimes all they need is a willing and open ear.

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Shake it off. It’s hard not to stay mad when your kids have spent
an entire afternoon arguing with each other, but it’s important to
shake off your resentment and move on when conflicts are over.
Kids have an amazing ability to fight like tigers one minute and
the next minute move happily on to another activity. Take your
cue from them and move on to a better, happier place. Think of it
as Mommy or Daddy Nirvana.
Model good behavior. If you want your kids to pitch in and help,
treat each other with respect, and in general be good, productive
citizens of your world, show them how. You are your kids’ most
important role model, so demonstrate through your own actions
what you would like them to be.
Maintain a sense of humor. Sure, it’s not funny right NOW that
your kids are tattling like maniacs, or that your son wants you to
pay him to clean his own room, but remember that the things
that drive you nuts right now will make great family stories a
couple of years down the road.
And remember that while every day as a parent is an opportunity
to say, “Because I said so!,” you can learn strategies for coping with
family friction to help you enjoy, rather than endure, parenthood.

4

Incidents of Bickering, Tattling, Surliness, and
General Family Mayhem

5

Never Can Say Goodbye
You and your kids are at a neighborhood picnic, enjoying the
happy bedlam that only cluster housing and potluck food can
induce. Your kids are playing a giant game of kick ball, and
you’re happily being updated on every tidbit of neighborhood
news. Life is good.
The festivities slowly wind down and you’re ready to head back
home. You track down your kids to give them the “time to go”
signal. Two come trotting up, panting and sweaty. Your eightyear-old son, however, pretends not to notice you. You then call
him, and he develops a sudden case of deafness. Finally, you
head over to the kickball game to collect him in person, and your
usually charming child is suddenly transformed into Damien from
The Omen.

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He starts to argue that it’s too early to leave, the game isn’t over,
no one else is going home yet, and he doesn’t think you’re being
fair. Being firm but friendly, you tell him you’re glad he had a
great time but it’s time to go home. Now.
He slams the kickball on the
ground, stomps his feet, and yells,
“I don’t want to go! You’re being so
mean!” Then he stomps off toward
the car, waving his arms and
muttering to himself about the
injustice of being your son, while
you trail behind, carrying a bowl
of leftover potato salad and a
potload of guilt.
What just happened, and how do you get your children to obey
you without a big fuss?

The Solution
Most children find transition times difficult—especially abrupt
ones. One of the great things about kids is their ability to
completely immerse themselves in whatever activity they are
participating in. Because they are so invested in the moment, it’s
hard for them to snap out of an activity and move on to something else, especially if they are enjoying what they are doing.
Plan ahead next time: call your son over a little before you’re
ready to leave and tell him in private what your plans are for
leaving. This will allow you to have his undivided attention and
will avoid a confrontation in front of his friends. Give him a specific amount of time as a countdown to your departure. This will
give him some transition time and also allow him to maintain
some control over his situation. Rather than having to be told to
leave in front of his friends, he can tell his friends on his own.

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Here’s What to Do
• Give your kids some parameters before you arrive at a function
or activity, so they have a rough idea of how long you’ll stay
and when you’ll want to leave.
• Establish an agreed-upon routine for the exit plans. For example, let your kids know that you’ll give them a ten-minute
warning, a five-minute warning, a one-minute warning, and
then the departure signal.
• Be sure to establish an agreed-upon punishment for not
following the departure routine.
• At the end of the countdown make sure you actually leave—
you need to respect your own rules if you expect your kids to
respect them, too.

Helpful Hint
You may find that older kids don’t need a countdown, and they’ll
probably resent you running up to them saying, “Honey, tenminute warning.” Instead, give them a general departure time,
such as, “Keep in mind that we’re leaving at eight-thirty.” This
method shows your older kids that you know they can keep track
of their time on their own, and that you trust them to respect the
limits you set. And if that doesn’t work, you can always go back to
the little-kid countdown.

8

Did Not, Did Too!
You’re in the car on the way to a
family outing. Your kids are happily
settled in the back seat yakking
away to each other, you’re in a
great mood, and the world is a
beautiful place. You drive for
awhile, absently listening to the
radio and enjoying the scenery,
when you hear from the backseat
those words you hate:
“Did not!” “Did too!”
Ah, your family mantra. Your kids are
bickering again, and it’s going to drive
you completely nuts. Your destination
suddenly seems much too far away.
How do you help your kids stop the
constant rounds of petty arguments and
get them to work out their problems
alone—and preferably more quietly?

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The Solution
Break out the ear plugs, turn up the radio, hum to yourself as
loudly as possible, and stay out of it. Kids bicker because they
can, and they do it when they are bored, tired, irritable, or just
because it’s their right as siblings. They want attention, and if
negative attention is the way to get it, that’s okay with them, too
One of the hardest things about being a parent is
knowing when to step in and when to stand back
when your kids are squabbling. If you always come to
your children’s rescue when they can’t work out a
problem, they will never learn to develop the social
skills necessary to negotiate fair use of the Playstation,
or learn how to share Barbies, or even brainstorm how
to entertain themselves for fifteen minutes without you
orchestrating their activities. Besides, no matter how
diplomatic you try to be when you step in, you’re
bound to be perceived as playing favorites.
That said, it’ll be easier for your kids to work out solutions on
their own if they have the tools to do it—after all, it’s not like
screaming, “It’s my turn, you butthead!” at the top of their lungs
is an ideal solution from your kids’ perspective, either. So play
the role of initial arbitrator: help your kids set up some guidelines
for working out their problems, and leave them to it. Otherwise,
the only consequence of getting involved in your kids’ petty
arguments is that pretty soon they won’t hate each other, they’ll
hate you instead.

Helpful Hint
If you and your partner are in the car together and your kids’ bickering is getting to be more than you can stand, pull over and start
kissing. It will stop any other activity in the car, guaranteed. Your
kids will be so grossed out they’ll promise virtually anything not to
see it again.

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Here’s What to Do
• Give your kids some parameters for negotiating their own solution, including a time limit to resolve the issue and a consequence
for each of them if they can’t resolve the issue on their own.
• Make sure they know the rules about hitting or any other kidon-kid violence, and the consequences for getting physical
with each other—and make sure you enforce those consequences if your kids do come out swinging.
• Stand back and let them negotiate a mutually acceptable solution.
• If they are unable to come up with a solution within the allotted
time period, enforce the consequence you have agreed upon.
• When they do work out the problem on their own, be sure to
praise them. Positive reinforcement goes a very long way
toward repeat good behavior.
Be aware that you’re providing the tools for your kids to work out
small squabbles, not big problems. You’ll need to determine if the
situation is too complicated or potentially dangerous for them to
resolve themselves. If the conflict between your kids involves
serious stuff like property damage or continued violence, then
you will have to step in and take charge.

11

What’s For Dinner?
Your family has been in a serious dinner rut lately, so you decide
to break out of the vicious cycle of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza,
and fish sticks and make your grandmother’s famous homemade
lasagna. You make a special trip to the store and get all the
ingredients you’ll need, you spend a couple of hours cooking up
a storm, and the result is perfect. Your dinner looks like an ad for
The Olive Garden and you’re thinking that “Professional Chef”
could be your new occupation.
You’re contemplating starting your own cooking school when
your son walks in and says, “What’s for dinner?”
You proudly show him your fantastic lasagna and wait for the
compliments. Instead, he says, “Oh, yuck—you know I hate
lasagna. Do I have to have that for dinner? Can’t you just make
me a sandwich, instead?”
So here you are, stuck with your incredible creation and a picky
eater, and you don’t know what to do next: make him a sandwich
or an ultimatum. Do you give in and make a special, custom-

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made dinner for the kid who won’t eat what you’re serving, or
do you stand tough and say the menu is fixed and there are no
substitutes? How do you get your kids to eat what you make for
dinner and try new foods without whining about it?

Interesting info:
Eating together does more than promote good nutrition and a
chance to see each other’s faces more often: studies have shown
that eating together increases family harmony and decreases the
amount of acting out kids do. So sit down and eat up!

The Solution
The old adage, “You can’t please all of the
people all of the time,” is never more true
than about food. Sure, your kids would
probably love it if you acted like their own
personal short order cook, but learning to
accept a less-than-perfect situation,
whether it’s coping with a dinner they
don’t like, or not getting their own way in
another context, is a lesson that your kids
need to learn about life. So don’t make a
special meal for your children simply because
they don’t want what you’re cooking.
Instead, set the ground rules with your kids so that they know
what your family policy is regarding meal times, and be sure to
include them in the meal planning and preparation process so
they have an opportunity to be a part of (and have a say in) what
you make and eat.
You can help make every mealtime a win-win situation by trying
to include at least one dish you know your kids will like. Not only
will everyone have something he or she will eat and enjoy, but

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