Parenting Tip for Sibling Rivalry – Little Sister’s Hero
I will never forget when my husband and I brought our baby girl home for the first time to meet her brother. My son’s reaction was priceless and surprising. I never thought once about sibling rivalry.
He just stared at her. No words. And I’m sure that he stopped breathing for a short moment.
My son is eight and my daughter is six.
They are sixteen months apart and their fighting with one another is ridiculous. We do our best to make sure that they both receive the same number of gifts and attention. They are competitive with one another and it’s unrealistic to make everything equal and fair all the time. This seems to be the root of sibling rivalry.
On a regular basis, at least fifty times a day I will remind them to share, keep the peace, love one another, forgive, respect each other, and be kind.
When their fighting gets out of hand they get sent to their rooms until they are ready to apologize. Just a few minutes after they get sent to their rooms they beg to come out and play with each other.
They are so mean to each other when they get mad. But it’s usually my eight-year-old son who gets in trouble. He is the one who blows up like a volcano when he has had enough of his sister pestering him. (My girl can be a little stinker and get under my son’s skin.)
It hurts my heart when I hear him say mean things to her.
I want to train him up to be a kind gentleman.
I lecture him about kindness when I want him to talk to his sister more gently. I ask him to be kind and give in when there is conflict. I remind him that kindness is all about sharing.
My lectures go in one ear and out the other.
Why is this?
It’s because I’m not talking his language. I tell my son to be gentle and he looks at me like I’m from a different planet.
Recently I have become aware of something that has literally changed my view about kindness in boys.
Our sons show kindness by being a Hero!!!! They are designed by God to rescue and save the day. In times of conflict they need to be encouraged to be a problem solver.
My son who appears to be unkind with his sister is an awesome boy who fights for his sister. He has her back and he does protect her.
-He makes sure she has her helmet on tight before she skates.
-He cares about what shows she watches and he tells me when he is concerned.
-He asked his dad if he could help fix her scooter.
-He tells her to be careful.
-He runs to her aid when she is hurt.
-He reminds her of safety when we go places where there are lots of people.
I realize now that teaching my son about kindness is to encourage him to be leader, problem solver, protector and fixer upper.
I learn so much about my son and daughter’s character by observing how they play.
My two kiddos are so fun. They both love to dress up and play super heroes. They both rescue and save the day. But it’s mostly my son who does the sword fighting and knocking things over. My daughter tends to be the one who needs to be rescued or she calls out to her bother to help her save her imaginary friends. It’s usually my daughter who shows gentleness and compassion over a pretend victim. My son pulls victims out of the fire and she cares for them. They make a great team.
They both make a great team in real life too when I foster their inner needs. My son needs to feel like he is important and useful. My daughter needs to feel appreciated and cared about.
My son stands tall and proud when I ask him to help, teach, coach, lead or fix something.
And when I complain about his behavior and attitude he shuts down.
With this new understanding, I much rather think up creative ways to make him feel valuable and provide opportunities for him to put his skills to work.
My son steps up to the plate when there is a need.
My son notices the homeless person and he cares about orphans. He loves on his widowed Grandma and shares his candy with her.
He is kinder to his sister when he feels proud of who he is and what he can provide as a brave, smart, and helpful member of our family and society.
Now when he says mean things to his sister I remind him that words hurt and big brothers need to protect their sister’s hearts. He doesn’t always respond the way I would like him to. However, I can tell that my wording and understanding calms him down. The thing that works better than lecturing is redirection.