Monday, June 20, 2016

Sibling Rivalry


I am DETERMINED to figure out some good strategies for dealing with the siblings at war sibling rivalry in our house right now! As best as I can remember, Jack and Cora seemed to turn on each other around the time Luke was born.That may be oversimplifying things but I remember checking out the book Siblings Without Rivalry last May... and I can read some awful sweet posts about Jack & Cora pre-Luke.

The Good Old Days
A third child arrives, the older two subconsciously decide they must take down their fellow-child sibling because the baby is too cute to compete with? Do they sense there is only enough air/space/love in the family for two?

What does sibling rivalry look like at the Landry household?

- Pictures from Jack always addressed to "Mommy, Daddy and Luke"
- A frantic fight (often with tears) about whose turn it is to sit next to Luke at meals; it doesn't seem to matter that we offered a "fair" rotating schedule, it is always a moment of high drama. We hear things like "But that's NOT FAIR. Now Cora gets to sit by him two times today and I only get to sit by him once!"
- Me: "Who wants to go wake up Luke?" No immediate response. "I do," says Cora. "I do!" shouts Jack and two children come barreling by me trying to get there first. Screams heard from the child who does not make it first.
- Cora walks up and slaps Jack. Disbelief and tears from Jack.
- Jack is playing a card game and Cora purposefully walks across his cards. Righteous anger from Jack.
- Cora (who sits in the seat by the van door): "Let me get out first Jack." Jack rips his seat belt off and bolts to the door half landing on her lap. Screams; tears.

I thought it was bad a month ago but we were on such a roller coaster that I felt sure once we were all on summer vacation and life slowed down that the ample servings of attention they'd each receive would cure all our ills.

Ha. Ha.

What actually happened was that we were all home together for many, many hours. What this meant was that all the above instances had about 500 more minutes of opportunity to happen in new and inventive ways.

Our strand of sibling rivalry evidently is NOT a result of a lack of attention. I have spent a ton of quality time with these guys in the last month and the rivalry has only gained steam.

And while I know Luke's entry into the family is somehow related, he also sleeps for as many as 7 of Jack and Cora's 13 waking hours. There is a ton of time when it's just the two of them splitting mine or Jacob's attention.

I know this is normal. I also think it has a lot to do with their ages and learning how to play well with someone 2.5 years older/younger than you.

But I still NEED to figure out how to mollify the angst because it's stressing ME out!!

So what is my plan?

I borrowed the book Siblings Without Rivalry again and have been carrying it around for two months unopened. I need to read it.

I remember from the first time I read this book that the parent has to extricate herself from the bickering, blaming, negotiating, leaving the kids to sort things out on their own as often as possible. I swear I'm trying but I need to figure out a way to do this more effectively.

I've started drawing a "kindness column" each day (8 or 9 empty boxes that lead to a more excitedly drawn box). Jack and Cora are both intrigued and don't even care that there is no clear reward. I've been noticing the acts of kindness I do see. Today they got to color in 3 boxes. Here were those good moments:

  • On our walk today, Jack patiently helped Cora walk around a dead bird when I'd given up on her and had walked away :)  
  • When Cora stopped to empty her shoe in the middle of an (empty) intersection, I look up to find that Jack has stopped and has his hand held out to the empty street in a stop signal to ward off any oncoming traffic :)
  • Cora sweetly ran off to get Luke a new blanket and quietly shut his door before his nap. :)
My Goal: Lessen the yelling and bickering (which is stressful on us all), help them see the fun and enjoyable qualities in the other, cement in their minds that our family is a team.

Goal: More of this!

I'll report back!

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