Sibling Rivalry

Written by Christy Whitman July 1, 2012

Frederic and I were taking the boys for a walk. They were sitting facing each other in the wagon, and they were having problems putting their feet together. They were starting to get irritated with each other. Maxim would put his feet on top of Alex’s, and Alex would get upset. Alex then would put his feet on top of Maxim’s, and Maxim would get upset. The situation was resolved really easily by doing the following:

  1. We did not try to help them by speaking or yelling at them as we walked. We stopped right where we were, and we paid attention to their situation instead of ignoring them.
  2. Even though the boys were only 18 months (Maxim) and almost three (Alex), we gave them many options for solving this problem. We physically moved their feet to show them. “You can put your feet here and he can put his feet here, or you can put them here and you can put them there.” We reminded them that there is a solution for everything. We showed them the choices and let them choose. We asked them right then and there to figure out their  solution, and we waited until they did. Once they figured out the best way to  arrange their feet, we started our walk again.
  3. We let them know what the consequences were. Whatever we do in life has a consequence. Whatever choice we make has consequences. So we let them know that if they were able to get  along, we would continue our walk, but if they could not get along, we would stop our walk and go back home. We asked them, “Do you want to go on the walk or go home?”
  4. We let them choose by answering us. “Go on the walk.” “Okay then, will you keep your feet there and enjoy the walk?” “Yes, Mommy.” And we continued on our walk. Because our kids are used to the fact that we give them consequences, and we do follow up on those consequences (so if they did not get along, we would have gone home), we did not have to go home. We enjoyed our walk.

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