How to (Try) to Stop Sibling Rivalry

siblings-fightingIf you have more than one child (or you have siblings), you know all too well the struggle of sibling warfare.

While it is normal and may seem harmless at first, it can easily get out of control and can oftentimes lead to developing bad (bullying) habits later in life when not addressed.

Children mostly act through emotions, so it’s our duty as their parents to teach them healthy ways to respond and act both physically and mentally.

Here are five tips for stopping (or defusing) sibling rivalry:

  1. Hold everyone responsible. Sure, the older brother may have started it, but the younger sister probably had her part if it led to bickering and fighting. Hold all parties responsible with the same consequence regardless of who started, etc. An early bedtime, no dessert, no friends over are all consequences that can be applied to all kids.
  2. Set expectations. It’s as simple as the Golden Rule. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Make sure you set expectations within your family of how you treat others – with kindness, respect, and sympathy. Not with fighting, mean words or bullying. Make sure these are clearly stated consistently so they stick.
  3. Show support all-around. Jealousy can play a big role in sibling rivalry. It may be difficult for one child to accept the others success, so create an environment of support and make sure to include everyone. One may have won a medal at their team sport, but maybe the other just completed a new book. Reward and emphasize both accomplishments. Jealousy develops when one child is rewarded more.
  4. Avoid comparisons. It may be difficult, but try to avoid comparing one child to another. We are all different and so is each child. Comparing often also leads to jealousy or anxiety and can make kids act out and fight as they start comparing themselves to each other and begin the “one-upping” debate.
  5. Separation can lead to appreciation. Sometimes the best resolution to bickering and fighting is separation. But not just for a few minutes. If you are able, make it a rule that they cannot play together for a full day because of their fighting. By the end of the day they will be begging to play with each other again and will hopefully appreciate each others company more.

Farrells-MA_KickerTKD Tip: Sometimes we all just need a good yell to get out our anger, frustration, or whatever emotion may be running its course. It’s healthy to let things out, but in a way that is okay. If you find your children yelling and screaming at each other for whatever reason, put them across the backyard or a longer distance away from each other and make them yell “I love you” as loud as they can at each other. They’ll be releasing their tension through yelling, but are saying something positive while also tiring themselves out. Most likely they will get a few in and then be done.


Parent/Child Activity: Each child has their own triggers that set them off to start misbehaving or act out, especially at a sibling. Sit down individually with each of your children and talk with them about what may set them off. Is it more attention? Is it tattling? Have them tell you, or write them down, and then brainstorm ideas together to try to avoid a tantrum, bickering, or sibling throw down. Maybe it’s walking away from the situation or holding their tongue, but writing down what they really wanted to say to get it out.






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Posted in Integrity, Self-Control

Three Ways to Succeed in an Instant Gratification World

We’ve all heard and read about our instant gratification society. As parents, we see it every day in our children. The Llama Llama children’s books are a series that talks (in a humorous way) about a llama who wants thing now. The Llama Mama assures her babies that Mama still cares even when she isn’t right there and they need to be patient. These lessons are critical to the growth of children and teaching long-term goals.

Here are three ways you can help your children set long-term goals:

1. Breakdown the long-term into short-term. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, each of our students is on a black belt journey. That’s a four to five-year dedication from white belt to black belt. Children have a hard time thinking about the long-term because they inherently just aren’t that old. If you ask a five-year old what they want to do in five years, they have no way of answering this because their brain can’t function at that level. They are only five! That’s like asking a 30-year-old what they want to do in 30 years. So we need to break this long-term goal into shorter, more achievable tasks.

2. Set smaller goals to reach the long-term goal. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, we use a belt system. Every three months, our students can earn their next belt. For our youngest students, the Little Dragons, they promote even more frequently (every eight weeks) as that is matched with their educational needs. Each promotion is a step closer to their long-term goal of becoming a black belt, but they are more focused on the next belt, not the black belt.


3. Reward along the way. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, we use stripes. Students earn red stripes for attitude. These can be earned for positive attitude in the gym, at home or in school, including notes from a parent or homework from school. We also use other colored stripes to show mastery of skills. When a student earns their final black stripe, then they are ready to promote to the next belt. It’s a quick way to gauge how a student is doing towards their short-term and long-term goal.

Think about your children’s desires. Do they have a big goal? How can you help them break it down to manageable short-term goals that can be rewarded?

Farrells-MA_KickerTKD Tip: When considering your child’s goals, think about their age and abilities. You want to give them goals that are hard for them to reach, but not impossible. Then think of ways to keep them motivated.

Parent/Child Activity: Start with one small improvement you would like to see your child make. For example, it could be making their bed each day. Talk with your child about this goal and decide on a prize your child can earn if he or she can do this task for six of the seven days out of the week for eight weeks. You may want to be more diligent and guide your child for the first few weeks, but they should be achieving the goal without reminders after the first few weeks. Reward your child every day with a sticker for completing the task. When your child reaches their goal, celebrate!

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Posted in Indomitable Spirit, Perseverance

Back to School. Back to Routine.

IMG_1908It’s that time of year when we all reset our schedules and get back to our routine. Summer is a great time to relax, which often leads to less rules and falling out of good habits. The start of a new school year is a great time to get back on track. Try these three tips to help your family get into a healthy and positive routine.

  1. Eat balanced meals. Getting ready for school and work can makes mornings hectic. Plan ahead by getting breakfast and lunches prepared the night before. Dinners don’t have to be complicated. Strive for a simple protein like chicken, pork or turkey, a carb and a vegetable. And make dinners easier on yourself by cooking double portions and eating them later in the week or for lunches.
  2. This has many benefits including improving your energy and attitude. Each member of your family should exercise. Join your kids in martial arts, take a walk as a family after dinner or find something that gets all of you moving. This week we are holding a Back-to-School special for the Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping program. Get $150 off the next 10-week session – that’s 10-weeks for only $299!
  3. Relax each night. Everyone needs reset time. Each member of your family should spend 10-20 minutes each evening by themselves doing something they enjoy. This allows your mind to recharge and prepare for the next day.


Farrells-MA_KickerTKD Tip: Modeling good exercise habits helps children see the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Your children will emulate what you do. If you are physically active, then they will be physically active. If you are a couch potato, then they will want to hang out on the couch as well.

Parent/Child Activity: Sit down with your children and come up with a list of healthy habits your family could adopt. Pick one and spend the next two weeks adopting this habit. Talk about it each day and report on how well you are doing towards adopting that habit.

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Posted in Health & Wellness

Learning Right From Wrong

Before bed, do you brush your teeth or just go to the sink and turn on the water while pretending to brush them? When eating dinner, do you eat your vegetables or feed them to the dog when no one is looking? How do you know what the right behaviors are?
shutterstock_216996220In Martial Arts we talk a lot about integrity. Being honest and fair are learned behaviors. As parents, it’s our responsibility to instill those positive ideals in our children.
5 Steps to Teaching Integrity
  • Can your kids describe what integrity means? Simply put, it is being honest and doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is around to see it.
  • Establish your expectations, and stick to them. Do your children know what is expected of them at different times? Kids appreciate visual cues, so maybe having a chore chart or a bedtime routine chart will help set those expectations.
  • Dishonesty has consequences, and it’s important to begin teaching children that at a young age. There is more to consequences than sitting in time out or losing privileges. Show your children that dishonesty leads to mistrust from those around them.
  • Teach kids to say what they mean, and mean what they say, especially when angry. This one can be difficult, even for adults. When faced with a highly emotional situation, like an argument, teach kids to take a time out from the situation so they do not say something they will later regret.
  • Being honest has benefits and rewards, you may have to point them out to kids. Sometimes those rewards are tangible, such as getting a red stripe on their Taekwondo belt for displaying good behaviors. Other times the benefits are intangible, such as the positive feelings we get when we make good choices.


Farrells-MA_KickerTKD Tip: Do you have multiple children? If so, make sure that each child is held accountable to the same rules. Their responsibilities may be different based on age, but the consequences and way in which you reward and discipline should be the same.

Parent/Child Activity: Role playing is a great way to help kids visualize and experience different scenarios. Help teach them about integrity by creating different situations, both good and bad, and asking them to help identify if they are “good” or “bad” behaviors and what they would do in those situations.

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Posted in Integrity

Teaching Responsibility

As a parent, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “But it wasn’t my fault,” or some version of this many times over from your child. Children are exceptional at passing blame to others (and creative, too!) and pleading the fifth when asked what really happened.

As cute or imaginative as some of their excuses may be, it’s important to teach them how to take responsibility for their actions and words. The likelihood of the dog always getting the cookies off the counter seems pretty slim!

So how do you teach young children about responsibility? Check out some of these tips:

  1. Keep Cool. One of the most important lessons you can teach your child about responsibility is honesty. Unfortunately, we sometimes too often jump to rash behavior and overreact when our children do something “wrong”. Make it easy for your child to be honest by keeping a level head when they tell you what really happened. This will make it easier for them in the future to open up to you. This isn’t to say they still shouldn’t receive some sort of consequence for their actions, but it should be discussed with them in a calm manner so they understand the situation.
  2. Praise Positive Behavior. Whether they told you the truth or took responsibility for an action without you having to ask, it’s extremely important that you praise their positive behavior.
  3. Don’t Confuse. It’s easy as parents to let certain things slide, especially if it’s been a long, hard day at work and you’re not willing to battle the children, but sticking to the rules is essential for children. Children who see that they can bend parents’ rules are more willing to push them and it shows you are not serious, which they will smell a mile away.
  4. Visualize. Children are visual learners (although it’s also best to verbally remind them as well), so to teach them responsibility, use a chart or some sort of system that they can visually follow to see how there are doing. Label or describe these as “responsibilities” not “chores” as children can take better ownership of “their responsibilities” versus “mom and dad’s chores”.


TKD Tip: Make sure responsibilities and expectations are age-appropriate. Think about attention spans of each of your children and make sure you’re giving them responsibilities they can do without much frustration.

Parent/Child Activity: Create a competition. Kids love a little competition, so set up a responsibility competition for everyone in the household. Each person starts the week off with seven stars. Anytime someone makes an excuse or doesn’t take responsibility for their actions/words, they lose a star for that day. The person with the most stars at the end of the week gets to pick a fun family activity or special treat.







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Posted in Integrity, Self-Control

Farrell’s Martial Arts Takes on Taekwondo Nationals in Richmond

Siddarth and Hunter waiting their turnOur Farrell’s Martial Arts Taekwondo competition team attended and competed at the USA Taekwondo National Championships from July 4 – 10 in Richmond, Virginia. In total we had nine students attend this event from both our Beaverdale and Waukee locations.

Competitors from across the United States attend this tournament and compete in Poomsae, Board Breaking, and Sparring. In addition, Master Ryan Bishop and Mr. Richard Puhl represented Farrell’s Martial Arts as Referees at the tournament. Master Bishop was selected from 180 referees to receive the National Referee of the Year award, which is a great honor and achievement!

Daniel Fath, Director of Farrell’s Martial Arts, says “Our Farrell’s students all did a great job representing not only our school, but the state of Iowa as well.”

Ready to SparIt takes a lot of time and commitment for our students to prepare for the level of competition expected in a National tournament like this. Extra practices, extra dedication and focus, as well as traveling to local and regional competitions.

Farrell’s students Kennedy and Natali Pahl made it to the second round in their respective poomsae groups. Siddharth Sriidhar, his first Nationals competition, earned a third place medal in sparring.

Thank you to the following students that attended and competed this year at Nationals.

From our Beaverdale School: Owen and Ethan Miller, Hunter Chanthaphon, Kennedy and Natali Pahl, and Rey Zaragoza

From our Waukee School: Siddharth Sridhar, Nora Croswaite, and Master Ryan Bishop.

These athletes truly make us proud and we hope to continue to grow our competition team for both local tournaments and Nationals next year!

To view more photos from Nationals, click here!

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Posted in Indomitable Spirit, News & Events

5 Indoor Activities to Burn Energy!

Summer and winter can provide some harsh weather conditions that unfortunately mean keeping the kids inside to avoid heat stroke or frostbite.

What Mother Nature doesn’t provide are ways to keep our kids entertained while inside, so it’s up to us parents to provide some fun ways to help kids burn off their exorbitant amount of extra energy.

So the next time it’s too hot for the kids to play outside, consider trying a few of these fun activities to keep them engaged and active!

  1. Roll the dice! Using cardboard or paper, create an activity dice with a specific exercise or activity listed on each side, such as 10 jumping jacks or 15 sit-ups.
  2. Jump pit. What kid doesn’t love to jump! Have them collect pillows, blankets and stuffed animals (anything soft to land on) and create a pit to jump into from the couch or bed.
  3. Dance party. Nothing burns energy quite like a dance party. Have your children pick some of their favorite songs and get ready to party! To make it even more fun, add the “freeze” element where they have to stop in place when the music stops. They’ll be laughing and burning energy in no time.
  4. Snowball fight. Take old newspaper or plain white printer paper and have them crumple it into “snowballs” and let the fun begin. Add in some fun obstacles to hide behind.
  5. Don’t touch the ground. Blow up some balloons and hand them over to the kids and tell them the person that keeps the balloon up the longest wins. To keep them going, make it best out of five games! To add even more fun, tell them you’ll add in obstacles and they can try to knock the other’s balloon away, too.

Check out Pinterest for more great indoor activities to burn off excess energy and remember to think outside of the box.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: If kids are stuck inside because of weather, it’s a great opportunity to also have them all do quiet time or work on other skills, like reading or their forms!


Parent/Child Activity: Using large popsicle sticks and a jar or cup, sit down with your child and come up with different indoor activities. Write these on the popsicle sticks and keep them in the jar. On rainy days or indoor days you’ll already have activities to select from instead of trying to think about what to do.

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Posted in Health & Wellness, Self-Control

An Attitude For Success

Attitude for successWe all want our children to be successful. When we say “successful” we’re not talking about the local talent show successful, but rather the long-term, happy-relationships, feel-good, confident-person, standing tall kind of successful.

Society tends to identify successful individuals as being smart, or driven, or lucky.

While many successful people do have some or all of these attributes, new research from Stanford University has shown that a person’s attitude is a better predictor of success than smarts.

Psychologist Carol Dweck, who has been conducting this research, found that a person’s attitude falls into one of two main mindsets – a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

As she states, “With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.”1

As we teach our young children how to handle life, it’s important to teach them these mindsets and how to develop a growth mindset verse a fixed one.

Teach your mini a growth mindset by doing the following:

Encourage Passion: Passion will overcome natural talent any day because passion is what will drive your children to become better, and to try and try again until they’ve succeeded.

Bounce Back: Success is ultimately failing many times over. Those who are successful don’t stop with their failures, but learn to overcome them and move forward instead of feeling helpless and doing nothing – they bounce back.

Be Flexible: Those with growth mindsets understand that life brings about unexpected events and are able to embrace their new situation and stay flexible to overcome it rather than be paralyzed by it.

We’ve said before that attitude’s can be changed, but that is a difficult undertaking and one that can come with a lot of resistance. Teaching these skills early on helps children develop healthy habits now so you can avoid an attitude adjustment later.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Watch your child and their daily interactions to see if you can identify whether they have a growth or fixed mindset. If they have a fixed mindset, see if you can start leading by example, demonstrating growth mindset behaviors that they can pick up on.

Parent/Child Activity: Try Warren Buffet’s 5/25 technique! Help your child find their true passion. Ask them to write down 25 things they care about the most. If they are younger, ask for 10 or 15. Have them cross off all but the top five. Those are the things they are the most passionate about!








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Posted in Health & Wellness, Perseverance

Health Benefits of a Positive Attitude

As a parent, you’re always concerned about the health of your child. Most times we’re concerned as we sit on the edge of our seats as they scale the tallest ladder at the playground – concerned about their physical health and well-being.

What we don’t always consider is their mental health as well.

Self-respect, courtesy, confidence, a positive attitude; these are all psychological states of mind that need to be taught and that have significant effects on our children’s mental state as they grow into adults.

Studies have been conducted to learn the effects and connections of our mental state on our physical health, and it’s pretty clear that having a positive attitude has some good health benefits.

A study in Denmark looked at 607 adult patients in a hospital and found that patients whose moods were overall more positive were 58 percent more likely to live at least another five years. These people exercised more, too.1

Another study has found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine . . . People who were optimistic about a specific and important part of their lives exhibited a stronger immune response.2

It’s also been theorized that those who have a positive attitude live healthier lives, exercising more, eating healthier and reducing risk for health conditions like heart disease, depression and other cardiovascular diseases.

Now is the time to help children establish a healthy outlook on life and a positive attitude. Life will happen. Unexpected, stressful situations will occur, but having the foundation of a positive attitude can immensely help children cope with these unexpected events, reducing stress-related health concerns.

It’s easier to start with a positive foundation than to change a negative one.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Finding the humor in a situation can help lessen stress and turn a bad or negative attitude around pretty quickly. Find some fun (and appropriate) jokes for your child to memorize to recite in stressful situations.

Parent/Child Activity: Research techniques online with your child on ways they can practice a positive attitude and optimism. Have them pick the ones they feel most comfortable practicing and have them apply to situations to start building a positive attitude.











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Posted in Health & Wellness, Self-Control

All About Attitude

shutterstock_387530503A positive or negative attitude is a choice. Our attitudes define how we handle difficult situations, challenges and obstacles in life.

Similar to other habits, a positive attitude needs to be taught and displayed for children to learn. Having a positive attitude will not only help them become happier and more productive individuals, but research has shown it can also help their physical health by reducing and handling stress better.

Try these tips for teaching your kids how to have a positive attitude:

Focus on Accomplishments. In general, we tend to focus on the negatives in our life. For children, this may be a bad grade or difficulty learning a new skill. Teach your children to focus on the accomplishments, regardless of how big or small they may be. Learning to tie shoes, putting away dishes by themselves, doing their own laundry, even dressing themselves – these are accomplishments that build confidence. They are learning to focus on the positive.

Ask your children to identify a daily accomplishment and have them tell you each night before bed.

Be Thankful. Research has shown that you cannot feel stressed and blessed at the same time. So you can see why it’s important to teach your children to be thankful. Stress is a driver for a negative attitude as well as health issues. Have your children write down (if they are old enough) or tell you each day a few items they are thankful or grateful for. Make this a daily ritual so it becomes embedded in their personality and outlook on life.

Control. Children need to learn and understand what they can and cannot control to avoid unnecessary stress. For instance, they cannot control events in their life, but they can control their reactions and the outcome. Teach them to react positively to events and teach them to take control of the outcome they want.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: It’s natural to be negative– it’s a part of our human DNA. Tell you children it’s ok to have negative thoughts, but encourage them to try to turn a negative thought into a positive one.



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Posted in Courtesy, Self-Control