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Raising siblings, lowering rivalries

Temple members enjoy parenting advice

Posted: January 16, 2009 9:20 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Early-childhood consultant Cookie Spancer instructs several parents on creative ways to interact with their children and how to handle sibling rivalry on Wednesday at Temple Beth Ami.

Sometimes parenting children can be like raising Cain ... and Abel.

That's why about 20 Temple Beth Ami parents went home Wednesday night with tips on how to bring up siblings.

Early-childhood consultant Cookie Spancer presented a witty and educational seminar on creative ways of communicating with children and handling sibling rivalry.

"This (education program) was real important because for families, the information we try to provide them hopefully makes families more peaceful," said Temple Beth Ami's Rabbi Mark Blazer. "Sibling rivalry has been going on for a long time, since Cain and Abel. It's something we need to reflect on."

Spancer's teaching incorporates heartfelt advice with funny, interactive examples. Spancer has a degree in Sociology and Early Childhood Education and is a well-known lecturer in the Los Angeles area.

"Sometimes you don't have to problem-solve for them," she said. "Sometimes you can just listen and say ‘hmm.'"

For one exercise, Spancer split the adults into groups based on whether they were the oldest, youngest, middle or only child in their family. Members wrote down disadvantages and advantages of growing up as a child in their group.

Cassandra and Daniel Azani said it was eye-opening for them to see how the different groups perceived their advantages and disadvantages.

The Azanis have seven children, but they were proud to say that much of Spancer's advice reinforced ways they are raising their kids.

Spancer had one mother in tears from laughing so hard.

"Her examples were so realistic," said Adrienne Levine of Valencia. "It was as if she lives in my house."

Spancer humorously instructed the audience not to be shocked when their young child comes in with a hurt limb after being in a room alone with their sibling.

"You have put a 6-year old in charge of a 3-year-old," she said, gathering chuckles throughout the room.

Levine was also impacted by Spancer's reminder that parents are creating their children's memories.

Spancer suggested when a child yells "I hate you," when instructed to pick up toys, a good response from the parent would be, "We are not talking about love or hate right now, we are talking about picking up toys."

Don't let the children become distracted from the task with an "I hate you" or "You're mean," Spancer said.
Kimberlee Crane, a Valencia mother of 4-year-old twins, loved the seminar.

"We laughed and learned," she said.


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