Payneful Sibling Rivalry

Posted by  | Monday, September 27, 2010  at 2:53 PM  
Hi everyone. This week we are addressing the issue of Sibling Rivalry. What's that, you ask? You mean your kids don't ever fight? Ha, ha!!

My boys are 19 months apart. I saw sibling rivalry start to set in when Samuel was about 2.5 and Joel was approaching his first birthday. Check out the video below:

Samuel developed a love for knocking over his brother. He did this multiple times a day. He would even come up to me and ask me if he could "knock JoJo". In response, Joel learned how to scream if Samuel even came close to him. And it wasn't a helpless little whimper - it was loud and screechy. I had to really keep an eye on them because I needed to know whether Samuel needed the time out for knocking or whether Joel needed the talkin' to for screaming. Ugh, the joys of parenting, right?

Once Joel was upright and mobile, the next thing we had to deal with was learning how to share toys. This is Samuel at 2.5 pushing little 1yo Joel's arm away while "sharing" a book:

Samuel decided about this time that he didn't want to share anything with Joel. He would even take a toy from Joel and put it on the other side of the room while making a comment like "Jo-Jo can't have it. He's a baby." This was definitely not a fun habit of his to break. Our verse for quite a few weeks was "Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32" We said it about a million times a day!

Now, we still deal with the issue of sharing. But it is much more quickly resolved. Whenever the boys would each have a hand on a toy and scream about it, I would restrain myself from asking "who had it first?" I want my boys to learn to put people before things. Fighting over a toy reveals a deeper issue of putting yourself first and feeling justified to have your turn. So I would approach them, take the toy away and ask what was going on. They would both inevitably tell me that it was their turn with the toy but the other one took it. I would tell them that it doesn't matter who had it first, the important thing is to be calm, use your words and work it out. Then I would ask one of them (I switch back and forth between them throughout the day so I'm not always favoring one) if he wanted the toy. The response is of course yes. Then I would ask the other the same and he would reply the same. Then I would hand the toy to one boy and tell the other one to ask nicely, "Joel, may I have a turn with that toy when you are done?" And Joel has to reply, "yes" or "sure". Sometimes Joel will even give the toy to Samuel right away. After that, I tell the one with the toy that he has one minute and then it is time to switch. I am serious that this almost always works - it just takes a lot of consistency on my part and me having to get down at their level with them and not just bark commands from the computer or the kitchen sink (I'm not the only one guilty of that, am I?).

One other issue that we dealt with for a long while was biting. This happened around the time that Samuel was 3 to 3.5 and Joel was 1.5 to 2. Joel was definitely the instigator with this. My boys would get super frustrated with each other and double lock down on each other with their teeth. Samuel actually has a permanent scar on his bicep where Joel took a good chunk out of him. Whenever this happened, I would try to comfort both boys as best I could and then make them say sorry and hug each other. We also used "Be Kind to One Another" here. I would stress to the boys that if they got frustrated they needed to just walk away. This is a hard concept for a little kid! I think I mostly just waited this phase out because now they don't hardly ever bite each other. But it is not a fun phase at the time!

So how about you? What are your sibling rivalries? Do you think boys or girls fight more? Differently? Please share your comments or any questions you have.


Amy said...

Leah, Thank you for this post. My children are also 19 months apart (boy and girl). My daughter is 16 months and my boy will turn three next week. We have started seeing some sibling rivalry between them for a few months now. I don't really have any advice, but I appreciate your honesty and reiteration about getting on their level. Thanks again!

KC said...

My sister has a permanent scar on her arm from where I bit her when I was 2ish. It is actually something we laugh about now because after that bite, my mom let her bite me back and I never bit anyone again. I guess my mom reasoned that I didn't understand how bad it hurt and I was just doing it b/c I didn't have any other way to get my point across.

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