Sibling dynamics when homeschooling.... please share your experience :) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 09-15-2013, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are not homeschooling yet, but are seriously considering, perhaps after Christmas. As I mull over the potential challenges, sibling dynamics is at the top of the list. My dd is 10, my ds is 7. They are either totally best playmates, or fighting and drama. They seem to be in a big physical phase, where they can't even be on the couch together without it turning into major physical rough housing, or fighting over whose foot is touching whose. Gah! It makes me want to tear my hair out. 

 

on the one hand, I wonder if being out of school, having more say and direction about their day, what they do, etc.. will mellow things out. But I am sure that while the dynamics will shift, they will still be there. My dd told me today that she uses school as an 'escape' to have a break from her brother. Hmmm.... 

 

So, I'd love to hear from others who have are already down the road. What challenges come up? How have you dealt with them? Especially getting kids to be socializing and mixing with other kids away from each other. 

 

thanks! 


I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
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#2 of 14 Old 09-15-2013, 07:10 PM
 
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I have homeschooled mine although they are attending public right now I still think we may come back home in the near future. The sibling dynamics worked for us. My kids are very close I think as far as siblings go but of course we have our sibling drama fights often! I stopped homeschooling because of time constraints. My children are young and both school age children needed my full participation in every single assignment which didn't work well with two to teach and a 2 yr old on my heels. I think you'll be fine. Just remember that school choice is never a permanent decision. If homeschooling doesn't work for you go back to public no problem.


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#3 of 14 Old 09-15-2013, 08:08 PM
 
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Could school be contributing to the rough behavior? I found when my kids were in school, they were very "wired" when they got home, even on the weekends. Something about being cooped up and the stress inherent in so many people being close together and so heavily regimented, then not being able to move and get their energy out. It was almost a territorial thing, like 'I can't have my space at school so don't you dare invade mine at home!'

 

We have loony dynamics right now, taking on nieces and nephews who are all close in age. They're getting on well despite there being many kids, many needs, and many personalities. There are squabbles, but the thing with homeschooling is that you see your kids all the time. It does not take long to identify triggers and learn how to head them off before they escalate into conflict.

 

As for your DD using school to escape from her brother -- can you give her an alternative escape? If perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed and annoyed, maybe she can come to you and ask to join you on an errand? Can you do some baking therapy together and banish little brother to the playroom or yard? Does she have a relative or close adult friend who she can head over to for a half a day as a break?

 

Obviously you know there could be issues, but it seems like you are attuned to your kids and their patterns. You already know what their needs are and your DD at least doesn't seem to have any trouble telling you. I think you'll find it pleasantly surprising how the slower pace and less stress of homeschooling can smooth over conflict and prickly sibling relations, just give it a little time!

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#4 of 14 Old 09-16-2013, 09:37 AM
 
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 My oldest and youngest can be a bit like this. Basically, my middle child gets on with everyone and is the peacemaker.She actually gets quite upset if one of the others is told off. OTOH the oldest and youngest are basically far too similar, both highly self-directed, both, in some ways, quite self-absorbed. My youngest less so in many ways and she has the excuse of being 5, but they are remarkably similar. They wind each other up because they both know exactly what the other is doing. If dd2 is sneaking an extra biscuit when the deal was to leave the rest for tomorrow, ds will realise before anyone else and vice versa. At the same time, when they are friends, they are very, very good friends and work extremely well together. Ds can get dd2, who is extremely stubborn, to do stuff when she's ignoring everyone else.

 

What I feel is that, given their personalities, and the fact that there is a 4 1/2 year age gap between them, on the one hand, hsing them probably leads to more clashes between them. There's just more opportunity for it, they are together nearly 24/7. BUT otoh, were they not hs'd, I can very much see them going their separate boy-girl ways. There are five school years between them, so they would barely be in the same school even at the same time. As it is, they see a lot of each other and have to resolve issues. They also move in the same social circles so see each other in different contexts. I have to say too, ds does keep an eye out for dd2, he will read to her or play a game involving unicorns if she asks a bit nicely and he does seem to fundamentally like her. He likes showing her the stuff that interests him-yesterday, unprompted, he spent hours setting up his old snap circuits set for her, changing bulbs and making sure all the batteries were working, and then showing her what to do. 

 

My middle child OTOH, already gets on with everyone and is motivated to get on with everyone. I think if she were in school she'd still get on with her siblings but the relationship would be shallower. So for her its a clear, simple win in terms of the depth of her sibling relationships. 

 

My feeling is that HSing intensifies sibling relationships. If they are best friends or arch enemies at all times, that will probably continue. But they will be even better friends, and perhaps even worse enemies. Or the enemy bit might start to bottom out, with time, If the animosity is really bad, there are ways to work on that. I personally am zero tolerance with fighting at any level, but, absolutely equally, with name calling or meanness. We have done a fair bit of work over the years on that, including using the How To Talk sibling book. A list of rules, written together with everyone in the house, is something we discuss and redo periodically and need to do again actually.


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#5 of 14 Old 09-16-2013, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Dela and Fillyjonk... I have thought that hs'ing would possibly help even things out w/o the effects of school, which i do sometimes see come into play. In the summer, they are together *a lot* and are each others' primary playmate, which makes for the full spectrum. So i envisioned that it would be the same. I see helping and facilitating the relationship as one of my biggest roles and probably most challenging. We work on it a lot, have family meetings when necessary, etc... and yeah, my dd has NO problem telling me her issues with ds, which is part of the issue in that she lives in this story that he is a pain to her, without ever acknowledging that is her best playmate as well. But it's good to hear what it's like in other households; i wasn't expecting a magic solution, just wanted to hear some experiences. Thanks! 


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#6 of 14 Old 09-16-2013, 10:41 AM
 
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We have never done school in any form: not daycare, playcare, preschool kindy, nothing.  My girls are at odds almost constantly.  You said it: they are either best of friends or worst enemies.  This issue has come close to making me start reconsidering hsing, and I am a confident, diehard homeschooling mama (we are unschoolers, BTW).

 

So, while school can definitely be a cause, and staying home together can help, while academic autonomy (or very close to it) can certainly help, none of that is a given.  Of course, in my situation, it is nothing new.  I am not surprised we are where we are, due to our constant battle with sibling rivalry, only dismayed I haven't been able to make an impact.  It runs so deep, I am started to look for family counselors to help us.

 

Good luck.


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#7 of 14 Old 09-16-2013, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, as a homeopath, I would say consider homeopathy :) especially for children- they respond so well, and I would definitely credit some shifts in my children's relationship and their own behavior to constitutional homeopathic treatment. As well as taking remedies myself to help me deal with it and feel more capable of holding the space and responding to it appropriately. It helps to bring the individual into balance, as the extremes in our personalities are often where conflicts erupt. 

 

but, i digress :) 

 

I appreciate your honesty with where you're at! 


I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
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#8 of 14 Old 09-16-2013, 06:39 PM
 
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What homeopathic remedies would you recommend? Rescue Remedy?
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#9 of 14 Old 09-17-2013, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Rescue Remedy is a flower essence and it is an energetic medicine, but it is made differently than homeopathic remedies and the effects are different. Rescue Remedy is great to put in water for daily stress, or after a fright or unsettling situation. It's an emotional, calming blend for in the moment. It doesn't shift deep underlying behavior patterns or imbalances. 

 

There as so many remedies, and homeopathy is all about the individual. What i am talking about is constitutional treatment, where you meet with/talk to a homeopath who takes the case of the child (and, in my practice, also a lot of family history) and comes up with one remedy that matches the totality of the individual- physical issues, emotional, mental, etc... A well matched remedy will help the child shift behaviors, move through developmental stages they may be stuck in, etc... 

 

hth


I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
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#10 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 12:42 PM
 
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Hi there! I'm new to the site, but I wanted to put in my two cents here.

 

My two boys, now ages 12 and 9, fought like crazy when they were in public school. When I started homeschooling them, it felt at first as though they were fighting a lot more often. And I think maybe they were. But now, while they still fight (and still often), it definitely doesn't seem to be as bad as when they were in public school. The fights are shorter, less intense, and doesn't have the edge that seemed to come with public school - I think the influence of the kids in public school made things worse.

 

I know there was mention of using school to "get a break" from the sibling. My boys have to share a room, so I do get the whole "needing a break" thing. We all need our alone time. I found that when it seems like they're fighting more and might need the break, I could give them each half an hour to an hour alone in their room. I would do something with the one who wasn't in the room, and whoever was in the room can do basically whatever they want. It's not punishment, but simply time alone. And it does help. A six hour break (the typical length of a public school day) isn't necessarily what's needed as a break - but maybe a half an hour, or an hour, a day could be needed, and yet still allow homeschooling and would maybe prompt a closer relationship between them in a more natural way.

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#11 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 09:35 PM
 
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FWIW, one thing you mentioned stuck out to me as something to work on.  Your DD is vocal that your DS is a pain.  That is an unacceptable way to talk about someone.  Anyone, really, and even more so a family member.  I don't let my kids talk about one another that way.  They are welcome to express their feelings  - I need space, I feel crowded, etc.  They are not allowed to be unkind to one another, and that very much includes how they speak to one another.  

 

My older kids are only 7 and 5, but they do have a great dynamic.  Sure, they fight and do mean things to one another, but they generally get along and love on one another.  I think a big part of it is not allowing poor treatment between them. 

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#12 of 14 Old 09-19-2013, 12:45 AM
 
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"Sure, they fight and do mean things to one another, but they generally get along and love on one another.  I think a big part of it is not allowing poor treatment between them. "

 

My own experience, from seeing a lot of families in action, is that you pretty much get what you're given, kid-wise. Also, IME, there is a big difference in what you can "allow" as your kids get older. 10/8 year olds are much less happy to do as they are told than younger kids.

 

I do agree about not tolerating mean-ness, name calling and the rest, and the way we've dealt with this in the past is by having family-wise discussions and working out ground rules for acceptable communication. BUT kids are kids and they revert to frustrated behaviour at times. Also, I got the sense that the OP's daughter has communicated to her that she thinks her little brother is a pain, NOT that she is directly name calling. At 10,  a 7 year old can be an age away, (or they can happen to still be quite cognitively close, depending).

 

The OP's daughter is communicating -to her mother, as I understand it, not her brother- a genuine issue, and one that needs unravelling. Its important to me that my kids learn not to speak in a way that hurts others, but mixed in with that is that its also important that they learn to speak up about their own needs. The two go hand in hand.

 

Also. I'm going to be honest and say, I'd be surprised if there are many households where the younger siblings have never heard "you're a pain" from the older ones. And the older ones haven't heard "you're so bossy" from the younger ones. There are some things that do just come with the territory of being a sibling, and while it absolutely needs discussion, I don't think for most kids its a terribly big deal to be called a pain by an older sibling. 

 

This is a judgement call and the OP sounds like a pretty switched on parent. Just because she mentioned that her daughter said it does not mean she doesn't have anything in place to discuss it.

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#13 of 14 Old 09-19-2013, 02:18 PM
 
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I hear you that things change as they get older, but I also stand by it being unacceptable to talk ABOUT someone that way behind their back, even if it is never happening in front of them.  I'd correct that type of talk.  Again, I'd help the DD find words that express her frustrations and needs without denigrating the younger brother.  

 

I also wasn't saying that the OP doesn't parent well - I was just saying that from what she mentioned, that stood out to me as something I would work on.  I agree that you get what you get as far as kid personality goes, and it can make things easier or harder.  I think whoever you have, being very careful how you speak to and about others is an important and helpful skill to teach.  And since the OP mentioned it is happening, I suggested it would help sibling dynamics to work on that issue.

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#14 of 14 Old 09-19-2013, 11:59 PM
 
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I hear you, tjej. I think it seems to me that there is a tangle of issues here. What I find hard with my own kids is that they will express very legitimate views in an unacceptable way, which seems to me to be basically what has happened here. I don't allow name calling or labelling either fwiw, its just I'm assuming that the OP doesn't either.

 

Question to the OP. One thing I'm not clear about is whether the kids want to be home educated. I'm assuming they do. I'd put this back onto them as a problem. And I'd add, in my book its fine to say that it doesn't work for you to be constantly involved in fighting between them. Its fine to state your own needs.They are more than old enough to solve problems here and take responsibility for their own relationship. I'd consider sitting down together and troubleshooting, seeing if they can come up with a solution to the couch sharing etc. Also, write stuff down and put it somewhere. Just the process of talking and recording can often make difference, IME.

 

I've often wished that there was a version of "how to talk..." aimed at kids.

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