Siblings are a weird sort of set up. As kids, we couldn’t stand them but nobody else could be mean to them. As adults, hopefully, we’ve moved past this. I have two older sisters and my relationships with them are okay, for the most part. I didn’t grow up with my oldest sister, Joanna, due to circumstances out of our control, but my middle sister, Gayle, and I were definitely in it for the long haul.
Gayle is almost 6 years older than I am and she has 4 kids. I’ve helped raise them, and that story is in Bonus Kids. As kids, we were pretty mean to each other. We look back on it now and laugh but back then, it wasn’t that cool. Once, both of us wanted haircuts, but our parents didn’t have the money. She got me in trouble for something that I didn’t do, and I was not having this.
I waited until she was asleep and cut her hair.
Even as a small kid, I was super petty.
I slept quite well, but I woke up to a very angry mom. Let’s just say she was not thrilled at my idea of revenge. She let Gayle cut my hair, which was long, gorgeous and super curly. I cried and cried, then Mom took both of us to get our hair fixed. Ironically, this was right before my third-grade pictures and to this day, nobody is allowed to see them. My hair was wretched.
The moral of the story? Don’t cut your sister’s hair, whether she is asleep or not. I’m still petty, many years later.
How Siblings Occur
We all know how babies are made, so I’m skipping the biology lesson. You get a sibling when your parents repeat that process, sometimes many times, sometimes with assistance from doctors. It depends of a lot of factors. Some kids are delighted about this, some are not.
My kids are 18 months apart. I’m not sure Cameron remembers life without Julian. Julian, however, was not thrilled about getting a little sister. He didn’t like Lily until she was finally walking and talking. Even then, it’s debatable.
Why do kids fight?
Needs. My kids fight over a lot- the last cookie, the last of the apple juice, just about anything. It’s tiring. Kids change as they grow, and each kid is different. Toddlers get angry over their younger sibling grabbing a toy. Older kids want to make sure everything is fair, and that can get complicated. Teens can feel resentment for having to do anything around the house or, yuck, having to be around anyone in the family period.
Personalities. Cameron is super laid back, like his daddy, and Julian is super particular about where his things are and people touching them. You can see where this ends up sometimes, right? If one kid is more drawn to the parents for attention, jealousy can set up within the siblings. If one kid is super talented in art, math, or a sport, whatever it may be, the others may feel ignored. Remind your child that everyone has their own special talents and that they are loved for who they are.
Special needs. I have tried my best to make sure Cameron and Lily get as much attention as Julian gets so they don’t feel left out, less loved, or any of this. I don’t think I have seen them act out for the extra attention, but in the past, Cameron would get kind of mad that we adjusted things for Julian. He understands a lot more now that he is older and gets why those adjustments were made. There is no one way to handle this because each kid and family is different. I will say this is nowhere near easy.
Role Models. If you and your partner handle disagreements respectfully, your kids will follow. I hated watching my parents argue as a kid (they are divorced- thankfully), so I made a rule with Matthew that we will not do this. It does a ton of damage that I just wasn’t willing to do to my kids. If we have an argument, we handle it behind closed doors or wait until the kids go to bed. This also allows for cool off time, and that can help.
What should I do when the kids start fighting?
This is a rough one. I eventually had to let them learn to settle their own battles. It’s a good life skill, and quite honestly, settling fights between these kids is brain-boggling. If there is no blood or broken bones involved, I’m pretty much out. The kids know they aren’t allowed to hit or throw things at each other, and they have been pretty good about this. I can tell when it’s getting physical and that’s when I step in. We are working on name-calling because that’s a thing around here and I’m not a fan.
If you do get involved:
- Separate the kids until they are calm. This helps everyone out. If you’re trying to teach a lesson, it may have to wait until everyone is calm.
- Try for a win-win situation. Everyone gets something out of the issue next time.
- Find out why they are arguing. Ask the kids to come up with a solution.
- Setting rules and boundaries for kids. No hitting, calling names, etc. This can help all around.
- Help the kids come up with ways to work together. My kids split the pet duties. This way, nobody gets stuck with one thing all the time. This used to be a huge issue. When Tiger died, we had to adjust this, because Lily was the main dog walker. She now helps with feeding the cats.
- Promote empathy. This is a huge thing in our house because Julian struggles with it. Cameron has helped quite a bit with this one, helping him see what he could do in certain situations.
- Pick your battles, one of the biggest rules of parenting.
- Treat each child individually.
- Don’t label your child. This can and will sink in.
I remind my kids that siblings are forever- Matthew and I won’t always be there for them, but they will be there to help each other. This became a very important thought after my stroke. They roll their eyes at me and say they won’t need each other when they are grown, but they have no idea of the road ahead. Isn’t that the great part of being a kid?
Do your kids get along? What are your tips on sibling rivalry?
Pics courtesy of my Pinterest board
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