by Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids
When sibling rivalry brings you to your wits end, you know something has to change. But what do you do when you are committed to raising your children with respectful parenting practices? When you believe that punishing children for their poor choices is not the way forward for your family and yet nothing else you have done works, it can make you feel a little desperate.
Sibling rivalry in our household has been a long-winded, drawn out affair between my two girls aged nearly three and nearly two. L has had a hard time accepting her sister, P, into the family and demonstrates her hardships through acts of aggression and extreme emotions.
This has meant we have needed to provide constant intervention in their daily struggles as we have aimed to prevent physical acts of aggression and sportscast most other battles. It has recently become apparent to me that our ongoing involvement in their affairs has limited the space our children have in which they can forge their own relationship.
Sure, we have seen snippets of a little sibling relationship emerge from time to time, little previews into what might eventuate on a more permanent basis in the future. But I have been left wondering whether their true sister – sister relationship is being somewhat stifled by our constant interference in their interactions with each other.
Currently, much of the girls’ communication comes through my husband and I as we translate their ‘words’, shouts, actions and inactions to each other through a method known assportscasting. As P screams and holds tightly onto her doll whilst L tries to take it from her, I translate with “L, it looks like you would like that doll. P, you’re telling L you haven’t finished playing with it yet”.
Now, this is my interpretation of the situation. Obviously I am only guessing what each of the girls are thinking / telling each other in these scenarios and there is always a chance that I am off the mark.
L, for example, may not want the doll at all, she may just not want P to play with it. P might be wanting to tell L more than that she hasn’t finished playing with it. She may also wish to let L know that she is frustrated that she keeps taking her things, that she wishes she would leave her alone or that she will in fact be finished using the doll soon and will happily give it to her then. Who knows, maybe they both enjoy the tussle and the drama created. They might like that it brings me running and ensures they both have my undivided attention.
I sometimes feel as if our verbalising of the girls’ communication throughout the day has limited their opportunity to fully express themselves to each other and work each other out and has hence restricted the development of their relationship.
With P being pre-verbal and L not always able to articulate her thoughts succinctly, it is obvious that this level of expression is not likely or even possible at this stage in their lives but I have often wished that I could take a big step back and allow them try to interpret each other for themselves.
I don’t want to be a part of their relationship. I want it to grow uniquely with each other without my involvement. Unfortunately, with the continual risk of physical altercation and P’s developed sensitivity to L’s outbursts I have not been able to give them their due space…until now.