Sibling Rivalry: Behaviors that Drive Me Crazy
“He’s so annoying!” “Sissy’s not sharing!” “That’s not fair!”
The sibling rivalry battleground is in full swing this summer in our house. Despite my and my husband’s attempts to have more family fun and spend time together, the backlash is that the kids are getting on each other’s nerves. My 3-year-old son is becoming more assertive when expressing himself and my 8-year-old (dare I say “type A”) daughter is less than happy about no longer calling all the shots. I find myself acting as the drill sergeant, constantly barking out orders and demands about proper sibling behaviors. And when the heat of the moment passes, I try to have open conversations with them individually in an attempt to teach understanding and patience with each other. But, honestly, I’ve yet to see much impact. The sibling rivalry battle continues.
5 Sibling Behaviors that Drive Me Crazy (and helpful reminders for keeping the peace!)
• Name Calling: “Sissy is so bossy.” “My brother is mean.” Beside being physically hurtful, there is no worse sibling behavior than name calling in my book. It worries me that they can so easily dish out names and not think twice about it. This sort of labeling can be emotionally scarring and could be something that each of them carries through their lifetime or, even worse, start using with their friends. So, I’ve been talking to both of them about the difference between “calling names” and using constructive words to describe a behavior they don’t like. Saying, “I don’t like when you tell me what to do” is a much better way of expressing, “Sissy is so bossy.” And “I don’t like it when you hit me for no reason.” instead of “My brother is mean.”
• Greedy Green Monster: “It’s not fair!” is a frequent phrase heard at our house lately. Whether it’s a special privilege like staying up to watch a movie or getting money for chores that were easier than the other’s chores, it’s hard to balance the playing field when it comes to siblings. In response, I try to be sympathetic to the frustrated child’s feelings while also explaining how the “offending issue” is actually fair. I find myself often reminding the kids how they got to do X just the other day or that this chore for a 3-year-old is actually appropriate for his age.
• Potty Mouth Mania: I have a lot of quotes I can insert here but I’ll spare you. If you have children, chances are you know what I’m talking about with this one. Some of the time, I find potty humor not too annoying. It’s the sibling factor – when they keep going on and on and on about it – that absolutely drives me crazy. When we reach that point, I often tell them to save the potty talk for another time and place. This doesn’t always work for my son who can have some self-control issues. When this approach fails, we send him to the bathroom to let out all his potty words until he’s exhausted himself.
• “That’s Mine!”: We recently updated our basement in order to relocate the kids’ playroom from our living room. With the additional space and better organization, we’ve brought out of storage many of my daughter’s old toys. For the most part, it’s been great as both kids are finding enjoyment in the “new” toys – except when my daughter is quick to remind her brother, “that’s mine, you know.” Translate this to mean: she can tell him exactly how to play with it. Our response is to encourage her to let him explore the toys for himself and remind her to let him make some decisions about how he wants to play with it.
• Competitive Olympics: “I can beat you to the car!” “I gave mommy a longer hug.” It’s like the Olympics at my house. Both kids are highly competitive so it’s natural that every thing we do becomes a cat and mouse game. My son is the biggest offender – he quickly learned that this is a hot button for his sister. She gets so mad about it that it fuels my son’s fire to do it constantly. My solution is a code word for my daughter. Whenever my son is pushing her competitive button, I say “pickle-pickle!” My daughter knows that this is a behavior she should ignore and not let bother her. It works! My daughter thinks we are in a secret club and my son’s behavior is quickly forgotten because it failed to get a big reaction. It’s a gold medal for everyone.
I’m sure I can come up with a dozen more sibling behaviors that drive me crazy. For now, these are the top offenders that I’m working to minimize in the weeks to come. Wish me luck or send in chocolate reinforcements!
- E-family news: Siblings: Best Friends and Worst Enemies
- E-family news: Parenting Tips for when Children Have a Wide Age Gap
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Sibling Rivalry and Lots of Bickering
- Family Matters Webinar: Positive and Proactive Parenting
- Family Room Blog posts about siblings