When we traveled to Flagstaff for Spring Break, the bickering between our boys hit an all-time high. I was at my wits-end and needed an immediate next step (that’s how I deal with stress; I figure out what my next step is to move toward alleviating the stress). So I ordered Siblings Without Rivalry from Amazon and read it on the Kindle app on my phone. (As a side note, I’m still trying to use the free library app to get Kindle books from the library, called Overdrive, but I’m having trouble getting my library pin to work during log-in).
First and foremost, read the book if you only want to have one child and would like additional justification that you are making the right decision. Seriously, the whole first part of it explains what is at the heart of sibling rivalry: children fee like they are competing for love.
The authors even go so far to say that having a sibling is like having your partner come home and say, “Honey, I love you so much that I’m going to bring home another wife/husband just like you. S/he is going to live with us and share all of your things.”
After getting over the shock that maybe I should have stuck to my original plan of having only one child, I found the strategies to be helpful and concrete.
Here were some of my favorite ones:
Instead of dismissing negative feelings about a sibling, acknowledge the feelings.
Child: “You’re always with the baby.”
Parent: “No I’m not. Didn’t I just read to you?”
Put the feelings into words:
Parent: “You don’t like my spending so much time with her.”
Give children in fantasy what they don’t have in reality.
Child: “Send the baby back!”
Parent: “You don’t mean that. You know you love her.”
Express what the child might wish:
Parent: “You don’t want her here. Sometimes you wish she’d go away.”
Stop hurtful behavior, show how angry feelings can be discharged safely. Refrain from attacking the attacker.
Parent: “That’s a nasty thing to do to the baby! She only touched your blocks.”
Show better ways to express anger:
“No punching. Tell your sister how angry you are with words, not fists.”
Those were the first group of strategies. I’m feeling like I should stop there so I can put them into practice in the coming week!