Focused Friday – Q&A on Siblings Without Rivalry

April 18, 2008 at 6:35 am | Posted in children, dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Self Esteem, siblings, toddlers, Tweens | Leave a comment
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Question:  I have two young daughters.  They go back and forth between loving and hating each other.  When they love each other they play very nicely, but when they hate each other they can actually start hitting and punching each other.  Why do they do this and how do I stop it?

Answer:  There are times when young children are unable to express their feelings with words.  This is when they start to use physical actions to express their anger – they also use physical expression when they in good moods as well, for instance kissing and hugging.  When your children are kicking and hitting each other the first thing you do is separate them.  Put them in different rooms if possible. 

Try to say very little.  And be very careful to not label them.  At this point you have no idea how the argument started, who taunted who, has it been building or a whole slew of other questions.

And even if you do know the answer, still don’t label. 

What I want you to say is, “When you are ready to interact with others, you are welcome back.  I want you to stay here till you are calm.  Then you and your sibling will find another solution to this.”  Then you walk away.

As for the solution, while they are separated get a few supplies- paper and colored pencils, costumes, or puppets.  When they are settled and calm, have them use the supplies to come up with the solution, or to redo the incident.  It is important that each child have the opportunity to show what they thought was happenng. And it is just as important for the other child to hear and see it.  When the “BUT that’s not what really happened!” is whined/shouted out, respond with, “This is child’s (-actually say the name-) turn to share what happened.  You will have a turn in a minute.  And I will be just as interested in what you thought happened.”

Through all this procedure, it is extremely important for you to understand that as your children mature they need to express their displeasure.  Guide them to more acceptable ways of expressing themselves.  Never tell them they are bad for the feelings.

Question:  I understand that you home school your kids.  I do too.  I just started recently.  When they are home with you all day long how can you stop them from squabbling?

Answer:  When kids are new to home schooling they are often surprised by all the decision-making they now make.  At school there is limited free time and limited access to what to play with.  At home there is everything and more time to do these things.  Sometimes they need guidance about what to play and other times they need time separated from each other.  This separation does not have to be in the form of punishment.  It is positive intervention.  “It is now time for you (-actually say the name-) to play upstairs, while you (-actually say the name-) play downstairs.  And don’t worry we can switch if we need to.”

Have faith in yourself and in your kids.  Home schooling has wonderful rewards and as with everything has some tough obstacles. 

Question:  My husband thinks that when the kids are fighting it is good for them.  He thinks we should just sit back and let them at each other.  I want to have a house with peace, not fighting.  Is there anyway that I can stop them with out my husband’s support?

Answer:  Yes, you can stop the fighting without your husbands support.  When you kids are fighting tell them that you know they have a problem.  You respect their need to express themselves.  Now you would like them to learn a few different ways of expressing themselves, which does not actually involve fighting.  Be firm about this.  Tell them they have reached the point that plain fighting is just not working.  It is time to try other ways of solving problems. 

Now insist that they use another method to express themselves.  You can suggest drawing, acting, puppet shows.   If they are older and scoff at this, just say,  “I understand this is new and different, but you need to learn to behave in a way that your anger is heard, but does not lead to hurting others.”

                                          

In all these cases, and any case of sibling rivalry, it is often the child who seems to be acting out the most that is the most hurting or angry.  Look to each of your children knowing that inside is their special GEM.  Keep that thought foremost in your mind.  Through it all you will love them and build their self-esteem to be wonderful and strong.

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget the Creative Crayon Club tomorrow!

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