Sugar and spice and all thatâ€™s nice, thatâ€™s what little girls are made of. What are little boys made of? Spiders, snakes, and puppy dog tails! We are all familiar with that rhyme, yet as kids get older, this manifests itself into constant hitting, touching, tripping, and shoving. How does one get a grasp on sanity when energy levels are high and the kids don’t want to leave one another alone? It can be exhausting listening to the back and forth banter, in addition to the physical aspects of kids not being able to leave one another alone. If you’ve reached your breaking point, I’ve put together a few ideas on how to get a grasp on sibling rivalry.
During a calm moment, explain the new rule(s) to children, so that they are well aware of the consequences to come. Remind them that their actions cause the whole house to be affected, whether they are positive or negative. Ex: when you are kind to your brother, he in turn is not agitated and will probably be more kind to you. Here are some ways to try to reduce sibling rivalry:
1. The instigator owes the child on the receiving end 5 min of their time in a chore they are responsible for. Ex: Set the table for them, unload their dirty lunchbox for them, carry their dirty clothes from their room to the washer.
2. The instigator owes you a chore. Ex: Unload dishwasher, vacuum, clean bathroom, take out the trash, rake leaves.
3. The instigator has to say 3 nice things about the child/person they just put down. Ex: Not simply, â€You are nice & funâ€, but something about their character. Ex: â€œI like how you are kind, a good listener when I am talking, and share your toys/books when I am around.â€ This usually brings on much laughter and diffuses the seriousness of the situation.
4. If children are old enough, send them outside to walk the dog or run around for 10 min. Maybe there is an abundance of energy that needs to be unleashed!
5. Separate children and give them specific tasks. Ex: 1 child sits at kitchen table to start homework or other project while another practices piano or reads on the couch or helps make dinner.
As the parent don’t let yourself reach the boiling point! Catch the sibling rivalry early on and maintain eye contact with the instigating child. Change does not happen over night and rivalry will never disappear, yet a touch of humor & a great plan can help take the intensity out of the situation.
Image used under creative commons license â€“ commercial use (11/10/2015) Sharon Mollerus (Flickr)