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Sometimes my kids just don't get along. They squabble over things that, from my point of view, don't seem to be particularly important yet will cause them to get quite upset with each other. As their mom I really want them to find peaceable solutions but I've had to learn to get out of their way instead of trying to referee their arguments and make them find those solutions on my schedule. Refereeing your children's arguments more often than not really ends up with them each wanting to be recognized as the "winner", with yet more negative energy focused on who was right and who was wrong. This blaming cycle can only lead to more disharmony, where everyone focuses on what the other person did rather on what their own actions were.
Instead of stepping in as the Peace Maker, try to help them learn how to communicate angry, sad or frustrated feelings more effectively, but don't do this in the heat of the moment - I don't know many people who are able to take constructive criticism or guidance when they are already upset. Instead, try to model good communication skills yourself. Over time, the more examples your children see of how to manage conflict the more they will be able to develop their own skills. This is why it's so important that you are able to model effective communication, as much as possible, while they are young. What we think we are teaching our children may not be the actual lesson they learn.
I think we've all been made aware of those "I statements": when "x" happens I feel "y". Remember that "I statements" only really work if you follow them up with "need statements". Need statements are NOT "...and I need you to..."; need statements are what need you have that must be fulfilled for you to feel safe and loved. Instead of saying "I need you to stop touching my stuff", which might put someone on the defensive and shut down communication, say something like "I need to know that my stuff is where and how I left it".
If I assume unkind or selfish intentions are behind my husband's or my kids' behaviors it will be very hard for me to talk to them about a problem without attacking their actions. If I instead assume that they are behaving a certain way due to their own needs, I can reframe my perspective and approach them with a gentler attitude and disposition. That way I don't shut down communication the moment I open my mouth.
My kids have absolutely improved the way they talk to each other when they have a problem. I don't mean that they don't fight anymore or that every conflict is a textbook case of peaceable family life; they still have their not-so-pretty moments. However, more frequently I hear them talking about a problem using kinder, gentler language and they find a good compromise or other solution. I believe the key was me modeling and getting out of their way & letting them work out their own problems. They needed to find their own way of connecting and building their relationship. They need to own their own part of the relationship - recognizing that each contributes in a way that can either build or break their connection.
This summer they both attended a camp for 5 weeks, but Kimi was in a counselor in training program so they didn't get to hang out and see each other as much as they had in previous years and Shaun mentioned to me that he was missing Kimi. Later, I saw them off in a corner of the tavern, sitting down close to each other, face-to-face, talking intently. They needed each other and made an effort to find time to talk. Soon after this, Kimi called out across the crowded tavern, full of about 60 kids, "I love you, Shaun!" and quite gleefully Shaun shout back, "I love you, too, Kimi!" The other kids smiled and giggled at what is probably an unusual site for them - a brother and sister declaring unabashedly that they loved each other.
Yesterday Kimi came home from a week away at Not Back to School Camp. The moment she got home she ran down the steps to the basement where Shaun was hanging out with friends. When he saw her coming he stood up from his video game and caught her as she jumped up into his arms. He held her in a bear hug, legs dangling down, for nearly a minute. Then they both settled back in with their respective friends and activities. I felt so grateful that now, at the ages of 17 and 14, they are so comfortable being loving towards each other. Seeing that tells me that, even when they don't get along "perfectly", they have a wonderful loving relationship that will only deepen as they transition into young adults. That, my friends, is sibling love!