Dr. Todd Cartmell is a favorite Hearts at Home workshop speaker.  He’s the author of several books, including Project DadRespectful Kids, and Keep the Siblings-Lose the Rivalry.  Currently practicing in Wheaton, Illinois, Dr. Cartmell and his wife, Lora, have two sons.

Today’s Workshop-On-The-Go comes from Dr. Cartmell’s book Keep the Siblings-Lose the Rivalry.  In fact, we’ll be giving away two copies of the book today!  In a minute I’ll tell you how to enter the drawing!

First, let’s hear from Dr. Todd:

Getting My Kids to Get Along

Jack and Melanie, two normal elementary-aged siblings, used to fight a lot. By fight, I mean WWIII, nuclear arsenal, it’s-time-to-call-Jack-Bauer kind of fighting. When? Anytime. Where? Anywhere. Over what? It’s anyone’s guess.

The good news is that the fighting has stopped. Or at least it’s back into a “workable” range that most would consider normal for young kids. How did this happen? It must be a miracle of modern science.

Not really. Jack and Melanie’s parents just put a few simple steps to work in their family and stuck with it. The good news is that for three easy payments of $39.95, these steps can be yours. Just send your check to Todd Cartmell, Wheaton, IL. Or, if you keep on reading, I’ll give them to you for free.

Step One: Connect with physical touch.

Loving, warm physical touch is a great way to stay connected with your kids. When you give them lots of little hugs, squeezes, and high-fives, it reminds them that they are special and important to you. Why? Because they know that you didn’t have to give them a little squeeze; you did it because you wanted to remind them that you love them.

The magical secret is that when you do this with ALL of your kids a few times each day, they ALL start feeling like a special part of your family. And when your kids feel more connected to you, it will be easier for them to connect with each other. Or in other words, you don’t have to fight for attention when you already get lots of it.

Step Two: Require respect.

This is a big one. I call it the Family Respect Rule and it goes like this: “Everyone in our family needs to treat everyone else in our family respectfully. All the time.” While we will all break the Family Respect Rule on occasion, it sends the message of where the bar is set.

The reason for the Family Respect Rule is simple. Everyone in your family is valuable. And what do you do with valuables? You treat them with care and respect. Kid translation: When you use respectful words and actions with your siblings, your fun will go up. When you use disrespectful words and actions with your siblings, your fun will go down. Any questions?

Step Three: Have a regular family time.

A regular family time does two powerful things. First, it gives your kids some fun time together that is likely to be positive because you are involved in it also. Second, it is a great time for family discussions, spiritual devotions, and for practicing simple family skills.

For instance, you can practice how to have a positive discussion (using a tennis ball as a prop) where everyone keeps their comments short and listens when others are talking. You can show your kids how to think of a good idea when faced with a sibling problem, rather than just act on the first few bad ideas that pop into their heads (e.g., Bad Idea #1: Hit sister. Bad Idea #2: Kick sister. Bad Idea #3: Jump on sister, etc.).


Jack and Melanie are not fictional and they are not alone. Siblings can learn to get along and I know many that have. However, they did not learn to get along by accident. They had a mom and dad who used these three steps to teach them how to handle family situations in a respectful way. Now, these three steps are yours and you can begin to use them right away. Or, if you prefer, you can always call Jack Bauer.

Dr. Cartmell’s book, Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry, contains fifteen Family Time Discussion Guides that will help you teach your kids valuable communication, problem-solving, and living-together skills that you can practice together in your family times.

Want to win a copy?  There’s one simple way to enter.  Simply comment on this post whether you know who Jack Bauer is.  Dr. Cartmell thinks most of you do…I, on the other hand, had no idea who he was.  I want to know if you do or not.  (If you receive my blog via email, you’ll need to click HERE to comment).

By the way you can find Dr. Todd on Facebook, too!

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