Originally Posted by tillymonster
Unfortunately I have zero time to read any books though I really want too! I feel like everyday is chaos and I'm slowly drowning.
Well, I’ve read it, so I should be able to be helpful without making you read the book too, right? Otherwise, what’s the point?
I do really recommend if you find some extra time, reading Siblings Without Rivalry, but in lieu of that, here are parts I think would be most useful to you:
Chapter 2: Not ‘Til the Bad Feelings Come Out – This chapter basically focuses on the idea that insisting on good feelings creates bad feelings, and allowing bad feelings leads to good feelings. So if the older child is acting out towards baby (or acting out because she’s upset about the baby), here are some ideas:
1) Instead of dismissing the feelings, acknowledge the feelings. One of the comic strips (which this book features heavily) shows a child about your child’s age telling the mother, “You’re always with the baby.” The bad response shows the mom saying, “No, I’m not. Didn’t I just read to you?” The good response shows her saying, “You don’t like my spending so much time with her.”
2) Give children their wish in fantasy. A comic shows the kid saying, “Send the baby back!” Bad response: “You don’t mean that. You know you love her.” Good response: “You don’t want her here. Sometimes you wish she’d go away.”
3) **Especially relevant** Help children channel their hostile feelings into symbolic or creative outlets. Comic shows mother saying to child who is hurting the baby, “What are you trying to do? Break her arm? You’re a bad boy!” Better response: “No hurting your sister. You can show me your feelings with your doll.” Other ideas for creative outlets include: hitting a pillow, making an angry picture with crayons or fingerpaints, and yelling “I’m MAD” at the top of their lungs. They make a point that it’s important the child be able to show you how they feel, not just be sent away to express their anger.
4) Stop hurtful behavior, show how angry feelings can be discharged safely, and refrain from attacking the attacker. Comic shows little boy about to hit sister and mom says, “That’s a nasty thing to do to the baby! She only touched your blocks.” Better response: “No punching! Tell your sister how angry you are with words not fists.”
Chapter 4: Equal is Less – Focuses on the idea that children don’t actually want to be loved equally. They want to be loved uniquely, as individuals. A comic shows a child asking the mother, “Who do you love the best?” Bad response: “I love you all the same.” Good response: “Each of you is special to me. You are my only Robin. In the whole wide world there’s not another like you. No one has your thoughts, your feelings, you smile. I’m so glad you’re my daughter.”
Chapter 5: Siblings in Roles – Talks about the idea that kids get locked into roles (naughty child, bully, whiner, smart child, artistic one) and how even seemingly benign roles (like big sister) are harmful. The chapter focuses on ways to free the child from their role. In one of the comics, a toddler bites the older sister. The bad response shows the mom coming in and saying, “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? You’re a bad girl!” The advice is not to give your attention to the aggressor, but to attend to the injured party instead.” The good response shows the mom talking to the victim saying, “Let me see. Oh my, it’s all red. That must hurt. People are not for biting. Your sister needs to learn to ask for what she wants with words. Even when she’s angry. Come, let’s put some ice on your arm.”
Anyway, hope that’s helpful. If my son were the one throwing things at his baby sister, I’m pretty sure I’d lose it and scream at him to go to his room, but if I had time to think about it, what I would try to do is wait for a time when he was feeling relaxed and happy, reassure him of how much I love him and how special he is to me, and then ask him about his feelings that lead to him throwing things. I’d try to get him to agree that we shouldn’t throw things even when we’re mad and ask him what we could do instead to show how we feel. Then when the situation actually occurred, I would try to make him think back to the earlier discussion and maybe use his ideas. Easier said than done, I know.