Chapter Six: What Every Mom Should Know About Sibling Rivalry
This is something that I am just now getting a taste of. With a 3 month old and a 6 year old I am discovering what seems like the impossible balance between the physical/psychological needs between both my children. Where most of this chapter focuses on managing confrontation between siblings (advice for later in the future) there are also some good techniques that I found for the here and now.
With a very needy baby in the home, my time and attention is being demanded heavily by her colic battles and eating/sleeping habits. My poor six year old, unfortunately has had to learn to share me at a pretty unfair rate of time. This has ultimately shown itself in some less than desirable behavior from my once quiet and self sufficient daughter.
In this chapter, the author talks about birth order...describing the different and natural tendencies associated with the entrance of each new addition to the family. After reading this, I can see clear and consistent changes in my oldest Kalynn in association with the arrival of our youngest Madison. One major change is her need to show us everything she does...a constant need for approval I do believe.
It also describes the importance of recognizing the struggles of each child and their connection with me. A good example of this is the behavior struggles I have been dealing with with Kalynn. Her talking back, refusal to eat her meals I cook, arguments over homework and chores and just a general bad disposition most of the time. Like most people, when someone (even our children) treat us disrespectfully and are consistently difficult to be around, our natural tendency is to pull away from them. I know I can say there are moments I would almost rather take her back to school once she gets home and starts in. But in this chapter, it recommends pulling her closer in rather than distancing yourself. The reason: because it is too easy to fall into a favoritism pattern with the child that is behaving and not causing a riotous battle every time you turn around. So in order to prevent this...the author says to pull the difficult child in for reconnection. Perhaps a special date, or just some one-on-one time so they know that despite the difficulties they are still loved and valued.
It also recommends how to handle battles between your children. Stating that it is best to stay out of arguments as long as both children are physically safe...allowing them to learn how to handle confrontation on their own. It also describes a "Sibling Fight Strategy" for teaching children how to handle these confrontations:
One: Use Your Words - Let the other sibling know you choose not to fight
Two: Take A Hike - Remove one's self from the situation. If the other sibling follows move to step three
Three: Find A Safe Place To Go - Find a place the sibling wont follow (ie. bathroom, bedroom, parents room)
This is something that I have not experienced yet. But one story the author used as an example was one where one child hit another so hard that the child actually required stitches! In this example it described the parents reaction. Believe it or not the parent did not go ballistic (I would) but rather stayed calm and made the "hitter" hold a rag to the other child's cut until they reached the hospital, and then made the "hitter" hold the other child's hand while the doctor did the stitching. Using this situation as a teaching experience to teach the children compassion rather than use abrasive/violent reactions. Of course, I'm not sure I could at that level of calm...there would be some serious consequences instead of just holding one's hand...but I do see the importance of utilizing the moment to teach proper behaviors.
The last thing this chapter discusses is something I find very controversial, bullies and TV. This is a topic I may cover later on.
- Fostering true self-esteem in your children means supporting them to become their best and inspiring them to help others succeed.
- Anytime you realize that you are favoring one child over another go on a "special date" to reconnect with the child you find challenging.
- One of the most effective ways to deal with sibling rivalry is to stay out of it!
- Support each child in finding ways to end fights easily by using the "Sibling Fight Strategy".
- Make a pact with yourself to stay out of your children's fights from no on and stick with it.
- Think about the child you feel less close to right now and schedule some quality time for just the two of you.
Have you and your family experienced sibling rivalry? Do you have suggestions on how to handle these confrontations? How do you feel about what the author describes as the "right way to handle it"?