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The challenge of adolescence is to balance the right of the parents to feel they are in charge with the need of the adolescent to gain independence.

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Children today are under enormous pressures rarely experienced by their parents or grandparents. Many of today's children are being enticed to grow up too quickly and are encountering challenges for which they are totally unprepared.

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Wouldn't it be nice if children would simply listen and learn.

It is what we say and do when we're angry that creates the very model our children will follow when dealing with their own frustrations.

"The thing that impresses me most about North America is the way parents obey their children"    (King Edward VII , 1841-1910)

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Sibling Rivalry

 
SIBLING RIVALRY
 
Let’s do a little word association game. I say a word and you say the first word that pops into your mind:
                  dog                           – cat
                  wedding                 – cake, dress
                  colour                      – red
                  horse                       – buggy
                  sibling                      – rivalry
Sibling rivalry has existed as long as we’ve had siblings! In Biblical times we had Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brother problems. In children’s stories we have Cinderella. it seems that rivalry naturally follows the word sibling despite the fact that there are many solid sibling relationships within families.
Conflict between siblings isn’t unique to humans either. It happens in just about every animal species that raises several young at the same time although human children don’t usually have to compete with each other for the basics of life – food, shelter, water. It seems they are compelled to compete over other things.
Sibling bickering can take more joy out of parenting than probably any other aspect of child raising and the section of “Crash Test mommy” is about dealing with Quibbling Siblings.
 
 
The beginnings of sibling rivalry occur as soon as the new baby is introduced to the older child. Up until this moment the older child was on the receiving end of all the good stuff from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Then all of a sudden WHAM, he has to share the limelight and many do not want to share it. The older one may say he loves his new brother or sister but it won’t be very long before he may say “it’s time to send it back”. At best he becomes ambivalent and at worst he really begins to resent the intrusion into his perfect little world.
 
 
 
The experts say it is wise for parents to:
                  1. recognize and acknowledge these not so nice feelings in the older child
                                    – both love and resentment can exist with the same big brother or sister
                                    – sometimes one of those feelings rules and sometimes the other
                                    – we should give a message that those feelings are OK – but bad behaviour directed at the younger one isn’t OK
                                    – those bad feelings sometimes are legitimate, normal and expected
 
                  2. spend separate special and significant one-on-one time with the older sibling as frequently as possible. It will not be as
                                    much as before and most kids accept  this.
 
 
However, little babies become bigger babies. They go from being cute, sleeping, smiling, noise makers who simply intrude on big sibs time to being able to crawl and walk and get into the bigger one’s stuff and break things and bug him and generally be a pain the the behind to the older one.
 
The Perfect world that used to exist is slipping away or big sib!
                  – “I can’t control mom and dad the way I used to!”
                  – “I can’t control this little pest the way I want to!”
                  – “ I can’t control my world the way I think I would like to!”
                  – “This little intrusion is causing my world to go in a direction I do not want it to
                                                      go!”
 
 
 
Developmental Stages
 Stanley Greeenspan,  a famous child psychiatrist in the US  is quoted as saying “Human development is fundamentally social  and it proceeds through relationships”. The primary relationships leading to this development occur in the context of family.
In order for a people to develop in a healthy way, the  capacity to form relationships must change from predominately a “baby self” to a “mature self”. A young child displays a very dominant “baby self” and very little “mature self”. As one gets older the balance hopefully begins to swing to the other side and this in essence is what growing up is all about.
 
 
 
Our “baby selves” are:
                  – self centered
                  – minimal self control
                  – tolerate very little stress
                  – express our discomfort in very selfish ways
                  – “baby selves” are what little children are made of – we expect it, it is good, they are cuddly, affectionate and warm and we parents like much of  
                              out children’s “baby self”. Living within a family is a safe place to express our “baby selves”
However, as a child grows, if he is going to make it in this world he needs to move from the baby self to the mature self
                  – higher level of functioning
                  – more patience, self control
                  – more able to delay gratification
                  – handle stress better
                  – deal with disappointment better
Being in the world outside the family encourages “mature self behaviour”
 
Moving from “baby self” to “mature self” is a developmental process that takes years to pass through and in fact not all people pass to a fully formed “mature self”, but that should be a goal for every parent to help his child move towards “mature self”.
 
In families with more than one child it is normal  for a child’s “baby self” to clash with the siblings. As they get older and move towards adulthood most will behave in a more mature manner and get along well with their adult siblings (although not all families reach this point)
 
 
If Stanley Greenspan’s assessment is right then one of the primary functions of family is to provide relationships with which to experiment and learn and grow. In order for children to learn how to solve problems, they must practice solving problems and brothers and sisters play a major part in this process. So from the developmental perspective, sibling quibbling, sibling rivalry, sibling squabbles are a good thing.
From a tired, frustrated, exhausted parent’s perspective however, it seldom seems good – but trust me good things can come from sibling troubles.
 
This of course does not mean we should actively encourage sibling problems and in fact it is through our wise handling of these problems that our children develop healthy behaviours.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So what is a wise way to handle sibling quibbling:
 
Rule # 1 – Don’t Take Sides
                                    – do not  intervene unless there is is a risk of harm
                                    – if you must intervene – DO NOT TAKE SIDES !
                                    – it is better to say:
                                                      – “ The 2 of you stop it !” rather than “Bill stop hitting your brother!”
 
Rule # 2 – Act Fast (or not at all)
                                    –  if you must intervene  (threat of harm, you are nearing the end of your rope) do sobefore   you get angry
                                    – separate the combatants
 
Rule # 3 – Don’t Listen
                                    – do not get involved in their argument
                                    – there are times when we should listen but during sibling bickering is NOT one of them
                                    – a common parent problem is we have a tendency to assume too much and we jump in with our own agenda thereby denying our
                                                   children an opportunity to resolve the problem themselves
                                    – a parent entering between sibs in a dispute immediately sets up a contest of who can get the parent on their side and any
                                                   commitment to resolving the problem is  abandoned
 
Classic day to day struggles:
                  – children taking things from the other
                  – purposely saying / doing  things that “bug”
                  – making faces
                  – won’t take turns or play correctly
                  – property & space rights
                  – I’m telling
                  – just “being”        – “Sally keeps singing and it bugs me!:”
 
Here’s a good question and I’d like to hear your ideas.
“How important is it that your child believe they are being treated fairly as compared to their siblings?”
 
Here are my thoughts:
It’s good to be conscious of fairness – but you don’t always have to be. If you always have to be fair – you are in trouble because in our real world life is not always fair. I don’t believe you want fairness to be the absolute dictator of your actions. Even if you could be exactly fair your kids would not believe you are. It is a very human condition to believe in our heart that we are sometimes not being treated fairly when the other party believes they are.
Also a kid saying “It’s not fair” can be an effective parent stopper if you let it!
                   
A manipulative kid :
                                    – can use it to cancel out unpleasant requests
                                    – could use it to divert from the real issue
                                    – can create a huge fight
                                    – it becomes a permanent take off point for repeated, endless fussing
 
 
 
 
 
 
What you decide to do with one sib should not be inextricably tied to what you do with another. some children are:  – more mature
                                    – more responsible
                                    – more impulsive
 
What is right in one situation for one kid may not be right for another one.
 
With regards to “stuff” it probably is a good idea to keep fairness in mind and aim for some kind of balance but expect your kids to sometimes pull the “It’s not fair” trick.
 
When children are not getting their way they can say things that are very hurtful so I suggest to parents to think long and hard before you take what they say during those episodes very seriously.
                  eg.           – “I never / you always”
                                    – “You don’t love me”
                                    – “You don’t trust me”
                                    – “I hate you”
                                    – “But why”
It is imperative that you use some tricks to keep perspective because it is common for children to try to knock you off your game.
 

 

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