(Inside: Discover 5 bonding exercises you can try today to handle sibling rivalry even if your kids fight like cats and dogs.)
“Mom… he touched me.”
“Eli… get out of my room!”
“Mom… he won’t play with me.”
“I’m telling mom!”
Ugh… the constant back and forth and arguing matches wear on your every nerve.
I get it.
I have three unique and spirited kids myself.
My four year old is as fierce as they come, standing up for what she believes is rightly hers anytime she thinks the ground needs to be cleared.
My ten year old is as creative and loving as they come, until he just can’t take it any more and finally loses his cool on his sister or brother.
And then there is my oldest. He is the most adventurous and spirited kiddo I know, which means that the rest of the family has to walk on eggshells if he has something in his mind that he wants.
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I wouldn’t trade my kids’ uniqueness for the world, but some days I do wish that “we could all just get along”.
Over the last few years, we have worked tirelessly to find peace and connection in our family and most days I am happy to report that we have a very loving and connected family. For the most part, my kids care about the well-being of their siblings, they problem-solve through their squabbles, and they look out for each other.
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, I wondered if I was missing some magical piece about how to foster a stronger relationship between them. The sibling dynamic was foreign to my husband because him and his brother magically always got along when they were kids, which is the polar opposite of what it looked like in my home growing up.
My brothers and I fought like cats and dogs. When I would talk to my mom about this, she would simply respond… “Oh that’s what siblings are for.”
I knew that I did not want that for my kids. I knew I had to find a different way.
Today I’d like to share an excerpt from my good friend, Rebecca Eanes’ new book, The Positive Parenting Workbook. This inspiring and inviting guide walks readers through the process of charting a new path toward greater emotional awareness, clear communication, and joyful parenting! Filled with encouraging prompts and plenty of room to record your progress, this interactive workbook/journal is for anyone who wants to deepen their relationships with their loved ones (even between siblings).
I am sharing from Rebecca’s book because I believe she has laid out a framework that is simple to follow and explains the steps you can take starting today to create a stronger sibling bond and handle sibling rivalry like a pro.
5 Simple Bonding Ideas to Tame Sibling Rivalry
Time In | Rebecca suggest using a “time-in” approach when your child has aggression or big emotions. What this means, is using a calming space and give him calming tools so that “he learns coping mechanisms for when he’s emotionally overwhelmed.” Once your child is rational again, you can discuss the anger and what set him off in the first place.
Cool-off | Often time siblings just need a “break” from one another and they need a space to do that in. Rebecca suggests setting up a place where each child can retreat to “cool off” until they are emotionally ready to address the problem and problem solve.
Peace table | Arguing is one of the biggest complaints I hear when I talk to parents. Rebecca gives a great suggestion with the “peace table”. She suggests having a special time and place where your children can come together to learn “peaceful conflict resolution.” During this time, she suggests you allow each child time to state their case, acknowledge and understand the problem yourself, and help your children come to a resolution together.
Repair | As with any relationship, after a good argument or scuffle, you want to work to repair the relationship. Rebecca says, ” Whether they choose to give a verbal apology, write a card, or make a small gift, I strongly encourage them to apologize and right their wrongs.”
Refer to your blueprint | This is the coolest part. Rebecca has created this amazing and resourceful guide to creating your family blueprint. Having something set in place like this in your family, allows you to refer back to it, bring it out in a time like this, and go over it with your children again. You can then lead a conversation such as “In the family mission statement we all signed, we agreed that kindness was our big value. Did you act in a kind way? What could you have done differently?”
Rebecca Eanes’ new book, The Positive Parenting Workbook, she goes on to ask you reflective questions about how you handle your child’s squabbles, what you can try next time, and encourages you to think outside the box on ways you can support positive interactions with your children.
The book is masterfully written to guide us parents through the treacherous waters of raising children. She has poured her heart and soul into this book and it is evident.