I consider myself a pretty easy going person but when my kids fight IT DRIVES ME INSANE. Sibling rivalry is the name experts have given it but pure hell is a more accurate description to me. It’s enough when they are being difficult on their own but when they argue and wine it’s a special kind of annoying sauce that seems like it was made just to hit my buttons. ORDER UP! I know this is familiar to anyone who has kids that are close in age. When I got pregnant with Max I was so excited to give Anna a sibling.
“They will be the best of friends,” I thought to myself as I daydreamed about them playing quietly while I cooked dinner. The second I started dilating I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Anna was jealous that she no longer had my undivided attention and in her mind, obviously, Max was the reason. I am no parenting expert but my exhaustive research and common sense have led me to the following conclusions.
The main key that I have found is prevention. This involves strengthening your relationship with each child, their relationship but not in obvious team building way because they will see right through that shit! Here are some things that have worked for our family :
Spend individual time with each child
Kids don’t want to share you because let’s face it, you’re amazing. You are their favorite toy! Spending time alone with each child lets them know that they are special to you and gives you time to connect. I try to do to this every week even if I’m busy. A quick errand just the two of us can turn into a mini “date.” Once a month I try to make it more special like a movie or a meal out.
Reward the pleasant behavior with PRAISE
I mean lay it on THICK. I’ve read this in multiple parenting books and I know why! It works! With older kids, you need to be careful because they can call bullshit if you aren’t being sincere. Just make sure you are sincerely liking their behavior and don’t hesitate to leave out any moment that even resembles a good sibling relationship. A positive side effect of this practice is that you will actually start to see more of this because you are looking for it! You really do get what you look for!
Plan a day of YES
I learned this from a friend of mine when my daughter was in preschool and guys this is brilliant. We have a day every once in a while called the day of ” yes.” So everything they ask for ( within reason of course) is a YES! Ice cream for breakfast?! SURE, stay up late? OF COURSE! I was so afraid to start this but honestly, they rarely ask for something that I can’t let slide for one day. They also feel united in their front to come up with crazy requests together. Try it and please let me know how it goes. The stories can be rather entertaining!
When our children are fighting, it’s easy to get caught up in the right and wrong and start screaming. Truth be told often our own stuff gets triggered when we are caught up in heated moments and it’s very hard to control our own emotions about the situations. Anytime I’m able to take a step back and take a breath and choose love, it always ends more peaceful. Choosing this way doesn’t mean not setting limits, it simply means not getting caught up in emotions and trying to understand my kid’s perspectives. More kids = more perspectives = more work, but also MORE LOVE.