I am looking for advice or shared experiences on how to deal with competition among siblings. I have been trying my best to deal with this issue effectively, but things don't seem to improve much. I have the feeling I am neglecting something and I am not sure where to look.
I have three young children. The two oldest (a 6yo boy and a 4yo girl) are often fighting (verbally but sometimes also physically). They have two very different personalities, the boy more patient and competitive, the girl impatient (about everything!) and imaginative. There are bad days when everything seems to be of issue, and good days when they find ways to play well together and also separately at times.
On bad days,we try to reason with them and encourage turn-taking, but often I resort to separation, when all else fails and I don't know what else to do. Does that help? Not sure it does, in the end.
What bothers me most is the fact that often, everything one child does becomes instantly what the other wants (which then degenerates into a fight) or, worse, when one is praised for a good deed or behavior, the other immediately asks to be praised to. It almost seems as if they are constantly competing for our approval (my husband's and mine), yet we have been very careful not to make comparisons among the two and we try to divide our attention equally among them. I honestly don't fell we have neglected one in favor of the other. We also have a toddler (19 mo), who does take away some attention from them, but we do spend a whole lot of time together (the children and I especially), since the kids are not in school and I chose to stay at home with them.
Anyone out there with a similar experience?
I have a 6, 4 and 2 year old and the battles between my 6 and 4 year old take up much of my day. So I can relate. I don't have groundbreaking advice, just that I only intervene when there is physical violence between the two (unless when one is very obviously taunting or teasing the other to get a rise). They come to me constantly with complaints about toy stealing, TV show changing, "won't leave me alone" type complaints and I now generally say "You two need to work it out on your own." They find that highly unsatisfactory but the squabbles seem to lessen when they don't have an audience.
As for competition....I'm sure it's there, but it's less obvious than just the arguing. My 4yo seems jealous of his older brother on occasion, mainly because his brother is more mature, reserved, responsible, so he gets a bit more freedom. For example I gave my 6yo our old digital camera to take pictures of wildlife (he's been asking to do this) because he can handle a real digital camera - I know he'll turn it off and put it in a safe place when he's not using it. My 4yo would not handle it well - he'd break it in 15 minutes by putting it in the toilet to see if it floats or something He's an impulsive and curious kid - I'm sure he'll mature, but at this point, he can't handle a real camera. So, my 4yo was really upset that he didn't get a camera. I told him they would share it but he needed to use it with my guidance, but that didn't seem to matter.
Thank you for your reply! Sometimes it's just good to be reminded there are others dealing with the same issues at the same time!
I think it's natural for a child to want to be in on praise if someone else is getting it. You said you don't compare them but if you use a lot of praise individually then perhaps a child may feel left out. One book I read and recommend is Siblings Without Rivalry for sibling issues such as this:)
Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS
"It's all her fault. Everything is always her fault!" This expression has belonged to my 6.5yo since before she had the words. Nothing in the house would get done because I had to be close enough to be my youngest daughter's bodyguard. DD1 can still be nasty with the verbal abuse, though she is finally over the physical violence....mostly.
DD1 has to be the best, fastest, strongest. And the way she gets that is to make others (i.e. my 4.5yo) feel slower, weaker and dumber. She is not this way around the girls at gymnastics, only to her little sister.
Sigh! So now I try to protect dd2's self esteem, try to correct dd1 without squashing on what she is trying to communicate. And then dd2 screeches at everybody the second she doesn't get HER way, OH! and etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.
They can be the best of friends but..... All the fighting is exhausting!
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
Thanks for the suggestion. It is certainly possible that, despite my best intentions, one of them feels less praised than the other. Sometimes though it seems to me that my oldest (who has a very hard time not being "the first" at everything) cannot tolerate the idea that his younger sister would be praised before him. I wish to find some positive way to help him outgrow this phase!
I have not read the book. Will give it a try. Definetly.