she hit me!" "But she started it!" The sound
of squabbling siblings is enough to make your hair stand
on end. How can two members of the same family love each
other, yet treat each other so horribly? Parents can't understand
why the children they love so much seem to hate each other
so much. Here are some tried and tested ways that real parents
have dealt with sibling rivalry.
have two children who are 19 months apart. When they are
fighting, the most horrible thing I can do to my kids is
make them share a chair and look at each other in a mirror.
With all the goofy faces they make in the mirror the disagreement
is soon forgotten and they are laughing like best friends.
And if they feel the need to continue the fight after a
few minutes in the no-no chair, I assign them some physical
labour. Then, the excess energy they are directing toward
each other is soon put to better use hauling rocks."
have eight children. We had a house full of teens for many
years. There was a lot going on with that many hormones
and that many agendas to fill. About 11 years ago when my
daughter was 15 and there was a lot of fighting and misbehaviour
going on in our home, I took a parent education instructor
course and began to teach parent education classes. This
was the best thing I ever did for my children. I really
enjoyed helping other parents with their families, but I
always got more out of the classes than they did. Slowly,
things began to change around our house. The children fought
less and less and we began to have a lot more fun as a family.
As the misbehaviour diminished, the relationships improved
as well as the communication and honesty. The key to this
great change was me. When I changed my attitude towards
my children and the way I treated them, they began to change.
But I had to change first. You can have the kind of family
you want if you're willing to work at it and be patient
for the improvements to come."
Element of Surprise
pre-teen daughters who are 15 months apart really can go
at it sometimes. A friend was over once and witnessed the
insipid mayhem and she gave me this advice: just take a
deep breath, put your hands on your hips and say with a
completely serious face, 'Girls, I am just APPALLED that
you would continue with this RIDICULOUS behaviour.' And
you know what, sometimes this works at our house. It takes
them by surprise!"
Arsenal of Tools
have a daughter, age 9, and son, age 6-1/2. A couple of
things we do to keep sibling rivalry at a minimum are: 1)
unless there is bodily injury, we refuse to become involved
in incidents we did not witness, this way we are not manipulated
nearly as often; 2) try to see that the younger one can
be the aggressor, and not always rush to his defense; 3)
if the two are fighting over something, take it away. This
really cuts down on squabbling over stuff."
parents have different ways of dealing with their children's
sibling rivalry. It is up to you to discover and put into
practice what works best for you and your children.