Tackling Sibling Rivalry
Now that school is back, and my boys are not seeing each other much due to being in separate buildings as well as different areas for playtime, I thought the holidays bickering would stop. I thought they would miss each other so much that when they got home all they would want to do is play nicely together!
Oh, but how naïve I was!! That was so far from the truth and sadly they have been fighting and shoving each other around quite a bit over the silliest thing. Rather than tearing my hair out, I examined the situations that had this behaviour arise. Children are not able to express their feelings and actions logically. They can easily take out their emotions as they process them on those they love the most! And there is no doubt how much mine DO love each other.
Here are a few methods that have helped bring back some love and equilibrium into to having happy siblings…
- Never take sides and always hear both sides of the story. And at times, depending on the issue at hand, refuse to listen to any of the story. This has stopped any negative reinforcement on them receiving attention for ongoing battles and encouraged them to work it out for themselves. This works well when no physical fighting is happening!
- I sneakily bring out photo album of them and start looking at them when they around. There are so many loving pictures in there of them as babies. I then talk to myself out loud of how much they love each other and what amazing brothers they are. I reinforce their love for each to them in a subtle way. I have also laminated and placed photos of them hugging and loving on the fridge and around the house. I refer to those photos sometimes and remind them how loving brothers treat each other. They are both quite visual so this works well.
- Refrain from ever comparing. It is so easy to do and yet so detrimental to long term relationship building. It creates jealousy, disconnect and resentment. The feeling of never being good enough can arise from comparing our children. Instead I focus on the strengths of each child. Example, “I love the way you used your voice the” and “ Look at the way you can be so kind even when you are angry” or “You have superb communication right now in the way you are telling your brother what you need”.
These are just a few examples that have really helped us. The most important one though is for you, as the parent to stay centred and not take on their fighting to mean anything about your parenting.