By Fredrica Syren:
Lately there has been a lot of fighting between my 4-year-old Noah and his sister, 8-year-old Bella. All afternoon long I find myself mediating between them. It’s not one’s fault more than the other. Bella likes doing things she knows will make her brother sad, and he loves to tease her endlessly until she erupts into anger. Gosh, I’m so tired of hearing “Bella hit me” or “Noah won’t stop bothering me.”
Last Sunday they ended up in a huge fight over helping me water plants. (And here I thought gardening is calming!) Before I knew it, one was throwing water and the other one was screaming like a mad person. This time I sat them both down facing each other so they both could tell the other how they feel. As it turns out, Noah does not think Bella likes him at all, and Bella admits that she does not like him most of the time because he’s “a pest” (her words, not mine).
It made me realize I need to work on their sibling relationship. I think whenever there are households with more than one kid, you will find sibling fights. There is no easy way to avoid them completely. However, I do believe that you can teach them to work out their differences and to strengthen their sibling bonds.
The way I’ve been working to encourage sibling relationships is that, first I stopped comparing the two children. I realized they are different, so I try to make them (and myself) see and appreciate their differences.
I give them joint chores but let them figure out how to work as a team to get them done. Of course, watering the plants didn’t work out so well, but I realize my mistake was to put one in charge instead of to encourage teamwork. Now, I have them help me match socks in the laundry, help me bake a cake and set the table; but they have to work together to complete their task.
I also work on teaching them to respect each other and each other’s space. I’m working on their communicating with one another directly instead of going through me.
So far, it seems as if things are getting a little bit better, but of course we’re not having all fun and games yet. And maybe we never will. But I do tell them to love one another because, when it comes down to it, they will be related to each other for a very long time.