Sibling rivalry – how to not stretch yourself too thin
I knew that when I had more than one child, there may be some sibling rivalry. What I didn’t know was that it could be out of control to the point where they need time-outs from each other! My word T drives M insane! Like all little brothers, he wants to be just like his big sis’, however the process that it takes to do so drives M through the roof. He copies every word out of her mouth and every move she makes. It can escalate to the point where I actually have to physically separate them.
I never had the whole sibling experience, but from the way M snaps at him, man, I’m glad I didn’t! For a child that is so smart and well mannered, her little Bro’ knows exactly which buttons to push to get a rise out of her.
The main issue I’m having now is trying to determine how much time and energy I need to spend on breaking up fights instead of the quality time we should be spending together. They both fight over my attention, want to be heard, and really, just doesn’t want to be out-heard by the other.
Here are a few helpful tricks that work for us (sometimes):
1. Get down to their level and make eye contact when you’re talking to them. This really works well with T, to make sure he’s fully understanding what he’s being asked to do (or not do).
2. Encourage healthy competition that involves something the entire family likes to do. If your kids are laughing and smiling… you hit the nail on the head!
3. Explain why/why not you are doing something or saying “no” to something they aren’t allowed to do. This works with T because he’s in the “why everything” stage so, telling him he can’t jump off the stairs because he would get hurt, made sense to him.
4. Structure. Routines work wonders, you don’t need to do the exact same thing every day, but keeping to a structure ensures that everyone knows what others expect of them.
5. A good night sleep. My kids are up in bed for 7 pm. On the occasion there’s the regular bedtime mutiny, but really… never been a huge issue. You aren’t tired… read a book.
6. Reward system. Yes, my children do chores, yes they earn points and yes it converts into eventually getting something they want. This teaches them the value of a dollar, that hard work pays off and they can learn how to be happy for another person even when it doesn’t directly benefit them. It isn’t child labor people…. I’m tired of picking up random socks and stepping on Legos.
7. Quiet time. Not time out, but quiet time. Time apart from each other to decompress and really, just be able to do their own thing. M is obviously older so she’s allowed to hang out in her room, T is a Tasmanian devil, so this usually means craft time and playing quietly.
8. Reward good behavior with praise, notice the little things like doing something without being asked to do it. Plus, you’d be surprised what a hug and a kiss would do!
9. Do something with your kids separately. M and I do “girls day” where we go for a pedi, lunch and a movie. It makes her feel special and it’s a good day out. T on the other hand is happy with a slice of pizza and heading to the mall to visit the pet store, so you don’t need to go overboard!
10. Be present. Your kids are looking for attention, be there to give it to them. It makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside.