Jani Dushman: Sibling Rivalry

Whosoever said that having one child makes you a parent and having two you are a referee, was so correct.

Mommy, he is staring at me
Mommy, he is saying bad words to me
Mommy, he has taken my pen
Mommy, he is very selfish
Mommy, he is a dumbhead
Mommy, he thinks he knows everything
And it goes on!

The house is no more a lovely and peaceful place: fistfights, power play, teasing, bullying, nasty words, provoking, and then the blame game.
No matter how hard I try, I am always bad. The comments, “you favor big bro more than me,” or “he is young so no one will say anything to him” come dashing each time.
I am the youngest sibling of two elder brothers, and I’ve been tried and tested of all WWF moves, so it’s fun to watch a bit of my childhood but, it isn’t delightful, especially when heavens break loose at bedtime.
I completely disown them and even their sight is a sore to the eyes.
At times I wonder that I gave birth to two enemies who have come to this world to fight their animosity with each other than two loving siblings.

Abhi trying to push away Sid

Sibling rivalry is a natural behavior, and we, as parents, have to bear the brunt of it regularly. One child will always blame for favoring the other one.
Can we say that our right arm is better than the left or vice versa? But children don’t understand this, and at times more than anyone else, people around make us feel guilty.
Every child is different, and every family is different. Parents know the best how to handle their children. We may be wrong at times, but we are also graduating as parents and have our own set of learnings.
Sibling rivalry at one point is healthy, but when not appropriately addressed can lead to extreme results like hatred or jealously.

Sharing a few tactics which I adopt and keep tweaking them constantly, see what suits you the best:

Praise tactfully
The child who is doing well, be it in academics or extra curriculum, will surely crave praising be it in the social circle or from the family. It is also advisable to appreciate to build up the confidence and trust in your child. But you have to define your limits here. Like, “darling, your paintings are commendable, and we are very proud of you, but I was also wondering that why don’t we start with our evenings walks regularly?” (or any new habit which you think will benefit your child)
you are also allowed to ignore the accomplishments once in a while.
When the child points out that, “mom, you don’t even appreciate my work.”
You have to reply with a smile and hug, “dear, I definitely do, but if you are seeking appreciation each time, then I am not game. I want you to do stuff for your happiness and not to gain recognition. You are my child; I believe in your capabilities.”

Here it is crucial to involve the other sibling in all these conversations and give him/her constant attention.

Set boundaries (I fail here -majorly)

My boys get too much into a fist fight, throw, drag, punch mode. Many times it takes a nasty turn. They also get into the teasing-to-a-limit phase, where the other one gets wild and then becomes uncontrollable. Here I have to set boundaries not to use hands and legs to talk, or if the other person is not liking, then the tussle has to stop or total ban on the usage of few words.
Children need to be reminded continuously that one has to respect other persons tolerance limits. They forget it, miss it, do not register it, but they’ll remember it subconsciously(I can only remain hopeful-pun intended)

Do not get involved
When children fight, let them. Like I always tell me, boys, fight until the blood oozes, or if they start any argument in a public place, I suggest to “fight like hooligans, roll on the floor and get into a punch-me-hard game it’s much fun to watch then.”
If they come to you to sort the issue, then you must have a simple answer, “I didn’t ask you to start the fight, then why should I resolve”.
Be ready to hear harsh things after this.

Expectations vs reality
everyone loves a high performing, well mannered and above all a pleasing child. But each child is different, so if the other child doesn’t fit into what-the-society-demands, then be it. We expect both children to be cordial and work in unison, but the reality is different, accept it, and respect your child’s individuality. It would help if you corrected him/her subtly for the unruly behavior in the best possible way your child will understand.

respect your child’s individuality
Doing crazy things together is important

Lets-be-together-time
Involve children into a common activity which they like or as a family. Here I do not mean watching a movie or a seven-star holiday. An activity that involves conversation motivates each other and has lots of laughter. Go for short walks, cycle ride, play a game, go hiking on trails, do wall painting, activities that involve body movement.

There are several sub-tactics as well, which we keep trying and testing. We all want to raise happy children, and if we have to do that, then the base criterion is that we as parents should be happy first and emote that joy and happiness on our children.

लड़ते झगड़ते कब यूँ ही बड़े हो गये

पता ही नहीं कब बड़े हो गये

अब लगता है वो झगड़ना ही अच्छा था

रो लेते ,मार पीट कर लेते

फिर भी कोइ बुरा नहीं मानता था

भाई चिड़ाहकर और माँ प्यार से मना ही लेती थी

बचपन के वो झगड़ते ही अच्छे थे

रूठना मनाना हंसना रोना बस चलता रहता था

Happy parenting and chin up referees .
Boom bang…there is a battle on yet again.

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