"That's my toy."
"No, it's mine!"
"I had it first."
"But it's MINE!"
Sound familiar? This could be my sister or brother and I thirty years ago, or it could be my own children now. It seems whatever one has, the other wants. (I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!)
As a child educator since 2000, and as a mother, I am always looking for new ways to develop problem solving skills in children. When I first saw pictures of the get along shirts on Pinterest, I thought "What a clever idea that is! Yes, that would be great!" But then, I was very disturbed by the genuine distress that the children wearing the shirt were always in. Observe...
(Photos found on the web, on Pinterest, etc. No photo credit is known.)
Sadness, anger, confusion, distress... even choking on a snug neckline! That is what I kept seeing in the children's faces wearing these shirts. In some cases the children were older and appeared humiliated, while in one picture the children appear too young to comprehend the lesson.
We know the parents were just trying to teach their children a lesson, and love them very much. But, were they really getting along any better? Tough to say. From the pictures, I'm guessing "no." Not in the long term, and not in a deeper sense. There may have been improvement in their behavior out of the threat of wearing the shirt, but the opportunity to bond the children with a positive approach, teaching them to recognize their love for each other as siblings, was totally lost.
And, was it their parents' fault that these "get along shirts" aren't the best idea?
No. They were probably desperate to find a solution to siblings' fighting,
and didn't know that guidance with the shirt was necessary.
Can a child educator show parents a better way, step-by-step? YES!
So I spoke with my talented friends at Doodlekins Cartoon Families™, and we worked together to come up with a program to make the clever "get along shirt" be a real success, with HAPPY siblings!
Doodlekins™ designed a logo for a very large, extra soft, scoop necked t-shirt that could be personalized for 2-5 children, aged 3-10 years. (Worn by two children at a time, of course! In larger families, any two kiddos can be placed in the shirt interchangeably.)
The focus is on smiles and loving, and in learning more than punishing.
The shirts are personalized with the names of the siblings, and slogan:
"Side by side, together we're tied; by more than a tee...we're FAMILY!"™
2-5 customized cartoon doodle children can be added to the heart:
Drawing on my experience as a sister, elementary teacher, and mother of two, I wrote a short story for parents to read to children while they were wearing the UniTEE™ . The story was to be used as an example for siblings- demonstrating a fight they could relate to, and how the UniTEE™ helped them solve that fight and grow closer together.
The story also shows Doodlekins™ colorfully illustrated "gems" of real-life situations where siblings resent each other or argue, and how they overcome those feelings.
Doodlekins™ and I then wrote the Family UniTEE™ program together, describing exactly how and when parents should use the UniTEE™ shirt with their children. We also explained how the siblings can EARN THE SHIRT'S REMOVAL (*important!*) and how they can begin to learn and show APPRECIATION of their sibling (*very important!*)
I tested this Family UniTEE™ program on my own children first, of course; catching them at a notoriously cranky time of day. The shirt is large and comfortable, with a wide neck that fit my kiddos nicely. I was amazed at how the Family UniTEE™ program really did help them settle down from their argument, and learn to "get along" better! Since then, my children have been much more tolerant and appreciative of each other too. WOW!
You can see the sequence of events below. From the children's fight, to UniTEE™ shirt, to sitting calmly and thoughtfully for the story, to making up and playing together. THAT is a "get along shirt" that truly works. I followed this program, and it gave my children real family unity (or UniTEE™ , as we called it!)
The Family UniTEE™ program even includes a free graduation kit that is mailed to you,
with a personalized certificate, stickers and perforated coupon/mini-cards.
These tools, and more on the website, help you through critical maintenance
for many happy years to come! (My children loooove seeing themselves pictured on stickers and mini-cards, and are very proud of their graduation certificate!)
Intrigued? Want to hear more details? Check out www.familyunitee.com for more information, and have fun personalizing your children's faces and shirt colors for their very own UniTEE™ get along shirt!
Until next time, I hope you and your family can enjoy some TEES and harmony in your life too- with children who really DO get along!
"No, it's MINE!"
"Actually, let's share! It's ours!"