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#1 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My boys are 9 and 6. They fight so much! I am trying to read Siblings Without Rivalry, but I can never find a spot to start. We get a lot of "he started it!" And we are getting into "He is in my space" pretty soon it will be "He's breathing on me!" I can't figure out how to use the words from SWR for these little grievances that blow up into gigantic things. Some days they will get along all day, others it is constant battling.
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#2 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 02:45 PM
 
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Go out and get a copy of "Mom, Jason's Breathing On Me!" to go with Siblings Without Rivalry. I like to use a combination approach.

Basically, the idea behind "Mom, Jason's..." is to *not* get involved in their fights. Ever. Now, this does not mean you don't prevent people from getting hurt, or tell them to stop-the-yelling-before-my-head-explodes. And it doesn't mean you don't work on helping them learn better ways to communicate and solve problems. It just means that you don't actually get involved in the dispute. For the author, his response would always be a very neutral thing like "oh, that sounds like a problem." And that's it. No "david stop poking your sister" or "louise, you do have to share." If someone's going to get hurt, injured-not hurt feelings, then you can say "Joey, you may not hit people with firetrucks."

For me, what this idea of not getting involved means is this: I am not going to go tell your sister not to take your toy when you come running to tell me she took it. I will: say "she took your toy. Frustrating, huh? I hear ya;" say "yeah, that sounds like a problem. What do you think you can do?;" say "do you need a hug?" Basically, I will validate your feelings and I will help you think about what to do (help you brainstorm)-*not in front of your siblings* (if the siblings are there, I'm going to say "oh. well, I'm sure you can work it out"). But I will not intervene directly. Period. I will not tell your brother to stop breathing on you, I will not tell your sister to stop humming. I am confident that you can work it out yourselves. *Note* I will separate you if your fighting is getting too disruptive-you both/all need a break to chill, you can't work it out when you're this upset (and your yelling is driving me up the wall). I will also separate you if you are hitting/about to hit. "you hit, you sit." You need to calm down, when we're this upset if we try to work it out we might hurt someone with our words or our actions.

The less involved I am in their conflict, the better. The more I try to help them fix it a la some scenarios in SWR ("Bob, first you tell me what happened. Okay, now George, you tell me what happened. So it seems like Bob thinks/feels this, and George thinks/feels that......") the more they fight. And I do think this is because if I'm doing this, no matter how neutral I'm trying to be, someone thinks I'm taking sides.

I also think it helps to sit down with the kids, one-one-one and privately, to say "dude, sometimes it's hard to have sisters, isn't it?" and just listen. Because it is hard.

I really think the whole SWR method works best to help a kid work things through when it's done one-on-one with a parent. And the "Jason's Breathing On Me" method works best when the flames are high and everyone wants mom to fix it (and everyone is age 4 or older-with the skills/ability to do some working out of problems on their own).
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#3 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, what an awesome reply. Thanks for taking the time!
I agree with you on the SSWR. It does escalate things in our house. I do a lot of "work it out" with them, but not usually with empathy. Need to add empathy! And the one on one sounds like a good plan as well.
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#4 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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^I've used this method on my sisters, as I had to parent them a lot when I was young, and on kids I've babysat. I know it's not the same as using it on your own kids - you have to deal with them on a daily basis, and don't want them to get hurt, etc.

However I have found it works like a charm for all the kids I've tried it on. They are doing to to get attention and a reaction from you, and to try to be the winner over their sibling. If you remove your reaction from the equation they've lost their motivation. Tattling is really not something to encourage - I think kids can only effectively be disiplined if they're 'caught in the act'. Taking someone's word after the fact doesn't accoplish much, and leads to recrimination..
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#5 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 03:15 PM
 
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I would caution against the method suggested.

My parents used it and it was HORRIBLE to grow up with. I was really really awful to have a sibling do something to you which was clearly 'wrong' and get no back up. How the hell do you 'resolve' it when you sister already ate your chocolate?

It really hurt my self esteem. I learned that I couldn't trust my own thoughts about what was fair and right... It's taken me ALONG time to recover and start believing that I have value.

Allowing a kid who's using bulling behaviour to continue isn't the right way to go, IMO. And that's what continuing to 'breath' on a sibling is. It's allowing one child to continue to disrespect the other child. And it leads down a bad road in my experience.

I think that it matters what the different kids are like. But for some kids this method is pretty torturous.
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#6 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 03:36 PM
 
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I think there's a big difference between not allowing your reaction to become part of their fight, or issuing punishments based on tattling, and just not supervising or intervening at all. Especially when the kids aren't evenly matched. Kessed that sounds terrible.

I was 5 and 7 years older than my sisters and yes, when I was young I did bully them and take their things. However, my mom screaming at me, spanking me, grounding me or withholding priviledges when I did didn't stop me, or make me want to stop. I just tried even harder to keep doing what I wanted without her finding out.. mostly through bald-faced lying. If she was less reactionary maybe I would have learned to think things through, feel empathy, or not smack them when I was mad (like she did to me).

The point is not to neglect the sitiuation and let kids get away with murder.
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#7 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 03:43 PM
 
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I agree 100% with Sledg. My kids are happy and play together with rarely a dispute.

Kessed..I'm sorry your experience was negative

When my children come to me I validate their feelings and hug and console them but I just don't take sides.

That's a simplified explanation of course but it stopped all of the fighting that was occurring with my older children and has prevented it in my younger children. And in the absence of the conflict they have become close allies and friends.

I do have private conversations with my children where I listen to their side of situations and console and validate...I just don't do it right then and there in the middle of the conflict.

I highly recommend this book.
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#8 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 03:49 PM
 
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I still think that the method is flawed.

It can really hurt when an adult says "you need to work this out" when you obviously can't. If we'd been able to work it out - then we would have. Seriously - I wouldn't have screamed for help (never in 'physical' danger) if I had been able to solve the situation myself.

It was so dismissive of my needs. I needed a parent to intervene and tell my sister not to do whatever. And the wouldn't. They had a 'no blood no problem' policy.

It hurt more to not get the help I needed than whatever my sister/friend did first.

Kids don't fight for the 'fun of it'. They get to that point because they are out of better tools.

It was also really horrible when they would validate both sides. If you're in the wrong - then you're in the wrong. Having your toy taken and knowing that you sister was going to be told "she did get a cool new toy for her birthday - it's pretty engaging isn't it. You must have wanted to try it" doesn't make you feel better. Or at least it didn't make me feel better.

But they still do it. If there's a disagreement between us now as adults - my parents will make both sides feel like they have a valid point - and then the disagreement lasts longer. Because both parties (there are 3 of us) feel like they're right and so we don't want to back down.

I think that when kids request a referee - they deserve to get one. If they can't work it out on their own (which is what they were trying first) then it's respectful to help them out.
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#9 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:16 PM
 
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I still think that the method is flawed.

It can really hurt when an adult says "you need to work this out" when you obviously can't. If we'd been able to work it out - then we would have. Seriously - I wouldn't have screamed for help (never in 'physical' danger) if I had been able to solve the situation myself.

It was so dismissive of my needs. I needed a parent to intervene and tell my sister not to do whatever. And the wouldn't. They had a 'no blood no problem' policy.

It hurt more to not get the help I needed than whatever my sister/friend did first.

Kids don't fight for the 'fun of it'. They get to that point because they are out of better tools.

It was also really horrible when they would validate both sides. If you're in the wrong - then you're in the wrong. Having your toy taken and knowing that you sister was going to be told "she did get a cool new toy for her birthday - it's pretty engaging isn't it. You must have wanted to try it" doesn't make you feel better. Or at least it didn't make me feel better.

But they still do it. If there's a disagreement between us now as adults - my parents will make both sides feel like they have a valid point - and then the disagreement lasts longer. Because both parties (there are 3 of us) feel like they're right and so we don't want to back down.

I think that when kids request a referee - they deserve to get one. If they can't work it out on their own (which is what they were trying first) then it's respectful to help them out.
Did your parents help you brainstorm to find solutions? Did they just validate feelings, or did they ask you to consider each others feelings? Did they work to find ways to help you connect? Did you talk to your parents how you felt what they did was unfair because you hadn't done anything wrong?

I'm curious because I do pretty alot of what Sledg talked about. I also support my kids in getting their toys back if they ask for help. I haven't seen any negatives as of yet, but maybe there is something I'm not seeing?
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#10 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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I agree that, if a child doesn't have the tools to work out a disagreement, just telling them to work it out is not going to be very helpful. Right now, I'm struggling mightily w/ the fighting issue b/c my children are 5.5 and 2.5. They are both so unreasonable, I can't get them to calm down enough to teach them some coflict resolution. Ugh.

I heard something that really sounded good to me. It's called the "peace table" or "peace rug." The idea was that each child could come to a place to discuss his/her side safely and be respected. Each child would have a chance to speak (using an object to hold while speaking maybe) and actually be heard by the other. The parent might moderate and teach the children how the process worked, but not be a judge or sounding board. The point was for the kids to talk together. Then, the kids would have to work out a solution that was mutually acceptable...NOT a compromise but trully mutually agreeable if at all possible. The kids would stay at the table until they found this solution. I haven't put it to use yet, b/c my kids are so little that I don't know it would work just yet.

I think that you can uphold property rights and safety rights w/o getting in the middle. A child who takes something that belongs to another definitely needs to hear that property rights are to be respected (we don't take things that belong to another) and that we can't hurt ppl to resolve disagreements (people are not for hurting).

Beyond that...I'm still stumped myself. My kids fight so much sometimes and neither one is willing to give an inch. I try to let them resolve it themselves, but I do separate them if there is violence. I also try to get each one to "use their voice." I have my 2.5 year old DS repeat, "I want to play w/ my toy" or "People are not for hitting" or "I am mad at you right now b/c you took my toy." I encourage DD to find words for her anger too instead of just crying, screaming or lashing out. They each do their share of antagonizing eachother. I try hard to be "neutral" but not uncaring. Each one of their feelings matters to me, but I don't want to be judge and jury either. I'm still trying to find the balance.
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#11 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:20 PM
 
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It can really hurt when an adult says "you need to work this out" when you obviously can't. If we'd been able to work it out - then we would have. Seriously - I wouldn't have screamed for help (never in 'physical' danger) if I had been able to solve the situation myself.

It was so dismissive of my needs. I needed a parent to intervene and tell my sister not to do whatever. And the wouldn't. They had a 'no blood no problem' policy.

It hurt more to not get the help I needed than whatever my sister/friend did first.

Kids don't fight for the 'fun of it'. They get to that point because they are out of better tools.

It was also really horrible when they would validate both sides. If you're in the wrong - then you're in the wrong. Having your toy taken and knowing that you sister was going to be told "she did get a cool new toy for her birthday - it's pretty engaging isn't it. You must have wanted to try it" doesn't make you feel better. Or at least it didn't make me feel better.

But they still do it. If there's a disagreement between us now as adults - my parents will make both sides feel like they have a valid point - and then the disagreement lasts longer. Because both parties (there are 3 of us) feel like they're right and so we don't want to back down.

I think that when kids request a referee - they deserve to get one. If they can't work it out on their own (which is what they were trying first) then it's respectful to help them out.
I hear what you're saying, and to an extent I agree.

My kids cannot work every single issue out by themselves. My oldest, in particular, has difficulty in this area. I do recognize that they need help learning to do this. I think it's simply hard to convey, in an internet forum, all the little details of how to help kids learn to do this without actually becoming involved in their disputes.

To try to clarify my own point of view, when it becomes apparent that my kids are really unable to work out a particular issue (very often they want my help, but when I tell them I think they can work it out they *do* work it out--so they aren't only asking when they really can't do it) it's time to separate the kids. They can't do it, but sitting there between the two (or three) of them and trying to actively mediate-that leads to more fighting down the road. So separation it is. And while everyone is chilling out, I can sit down with them individually and talk about it. To one child it might be "let's think of some ways you can solve this kind of thing next time." And to another it might be "you know, she was really upset when you took her special toy without asking and wouldn't give it back. People like for you to ask before using someone else's things" (or better: "how do you think she felt when you took her toy and wouldn't give it back?" and "what was up? you wanted to use her toy, what's a different way you could've handled it?")

And there are times when something is particularly upsetting to one child, and they want to know I'm going to do something to protect them. And I will, absolutely. It's just that I'm not going to reprimand their sibling in front of them, necessarily. Sure, if someone is about to hit someone (or just has) I'm definitely going to say "C, you may not hit" and bring them to a place to chill out. But if it's "she just ate my last candy, and I really wanted it!," then I'm going to validate this child's feelings and talk it over and give hugs-and suggest we brainstorm some ways this child can talk to the child who took the last candy (and I will even be near them for support-but I encourage them to do the talking). And I can talk to the child who took the candy, in private, about their actions--if needed, but vedry often it's not--often the first child just says "I really didn't like it when you took my last candy!" and the other child says "I'm sorry" and then they're fine (and these days, probably the child who took the candy and the third child who had nothing to do with it will suddenly both be offering up some prized piece of candy to the first child to make up for it).

By not intervening directly, I mean "I'm not going to solve this for you, but I will help you solve it yourself." I'm a resource for you. I'll help you brainstorm ways to handle it (privately-"hey, if you need some help let's talk in the other room"), I might (and very often do) talk to your sibling later in private about their behavior, I will intervene to make sure you don't get hurt, I will practice communicating and problem solving with you throughout daily life to help you learn to better resolve conflicts--but I will not be stepping in to solve this for you.

And, as always, this is what works best in my home. I have so tried to be the referee, and it made things a million times worse. And it is so hard to convey the subtleties of this, and all the effort we put into helping our kids learn to resolve conflicts, on the internet.

Another good resource, btw, is Raising A Thinking Child, which is entirely about helping kids learn the skills they need in order to resolve conflict: communication skills, emotional skills, perspective-taking skills, problem-solving skills (brainstorming, evaluating possible solutions, etc.).
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#12 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:21 PM
 
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Another good idea that I've heard is to have each child pretend to be the other and state the problem. I haven't used this either b/c of my kids' ages but it sounds really, really good for developing empathy. Anybody try this?
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#13 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:24 PM
 
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Thanks for the book suggestions! I'm going to check them out of the library!
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#14 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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To try to clarify my own point of view, when it becomes apparent that my kids are really unable to work out a particular issue (very often they want my help, but when I tell them I think they can work it out they *do* work it out--so they aren't only asking when they really can't do it) it's time to separate the kids.
My problem with this is that we would go off and appear to work it out. But in reality my sister just 'won' everytime. Since she was older and smarter (not in an absolute - but because she was smarter) she would convince we we'd worked it out. But we hadn't. I've just been manipulated and steamrolled.

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By not intervening directly, I mean "I'm not going to solve this for you, but I will help you solve it yourself." I'm a resource for you. I'll help you brainstorm ways to handle it (privately-"hey, if you need some help let's talk in the other room"), I might (and very often do) talk to your sibling later in private about their behavior, I will intervene to make sure you don't get hurt, I will practice communicating and problem solving with you throughout daily life to help you learn to better resolve conflicts--but I will not be stepping in to solve this for you.
So what do you do when one child has tried everything he can think of to get something to happen.

To put my (as a child) into the hot seat for a moment. I used to 'look' at my sister. Sometimes for an entire day, everytime I saw her I would 'stare' at her and she HATED it. She would try lots of things. My parents would tell me that it hurts people's feelings to annoy them. Blah Blah Blah... I would still do it. It got to the point sometimes where my sister would spend the entire day in her room because that was the only place I couldn't go. I would sit outside my room so that I could 'look' at her as she ran from her room to the bathroom and back.

It was stupid. I wish that my parents has stepped in and told me to knock it off. Why should I be allowed to bully my older (6 years older) sister in such a way? But because I wasn't 'doing' anything to her or her stuff - my parents wanted us to work it out. How I'm still not sure.

What exactly can a 12yo do to a 6yo to get them to agree to stop? Basically nothing. She'd finally take matters into her own hands by confiscating my toys or something until I'd agree to 'behave'...

I don't think that siblings should be disciplining each other. And that's what this method comes down to. You're making the siblings 'parent' each other.

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And, as always, this is what works best in my home. I have so tried to be the referee, and it made things a million times worse. And it is so hard to convey the subtleties of this, and all the effort we put into helping our kids learn to resolve conflicts, on the internet.

Another good resource, btw, is Raising A Thinking Child, which is entirely about helping kids learn the skills they need in order to resolve conflict: communication skills, emotional skills, perspective-taking skills, problem-solving skills (brainstorming, evaluating possible solutions, etc.).
I'm glad it appears to be working for your kids.

I have a challenge for you. Ask your kids how it makes them feel when they come to you for help and you turn it back to them.
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#15 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 05:43 PM
 
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subbing... as I see this becoming a big issue with my two boys...

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#16 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 06:01 PM
 
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To put my (as a child) into the hot seat for a moment. I used to 'look' at my sister. Sometimes for an entire day, everytime I saw her I would 'stare' at her and she HATED it. She would try lots of things. My parents would tell me that it hurts people's feelings to annoy them. Blah Blah Blah... I would still do it. It got to the point sometimes where my sister would spend the entire day in her room because that was the only place I couldn't go. I would sit outside my room so that I could 'look' at her as she ran from her room to the bathroom and back.
In the case of an ongoing problem like this, yes I'd step in. It would look like this: I'd take the 6 year old aside, privately, ask her what's up with the staring, why is she doing it, and explain that I expect her to stop doing this-if there is something she's trying to accomplish by doing this that she can articulate, we can work together to figure out another way of accomplishing that. I would take the 12 year old aside and talk about how she can deal with this (aside from hiding in her room), we'd talk about how she feels about it, how she can cope with it. Probably in this kind of ongoing, sticky problem we'd have a family meeting where we all talk about it together and find a solution.

Real example: My girls share a room. Sometimes my oldest needs time alone to chill in her room. The little one, who is 4 (and thus needs a lot more guidance than the older kids) tends to follow her around because she likes to play with her big sister. So there are times when dd1 needs alone time, but dd2 follows and lots of screaming ensues. So I sat down with dd1 and talked about ways she can tell me that she needs alone time, and I will make sure she's able to take that alone time--but she needs to tell me first, so I can make sure dd2 knows not to go in. We also talked about how if dd2 is already in the room playing, she can ask dd2 to leave but she might have to take her alone time somewhere else (because dd2 was already there). I separately sat down with dd2, and explained that when dd1 needs alone time in her room we need to leave her alone. I said I would tell her when dd1 needs alone time, and when I say that we need to leave her alone. In this case, I did intervene heavily-because this is an issue that dd1 has great difficulty dealing with on her own, and which is critical to her mental health, to preventing serious deterioration of her behavior, to keeping everyone safe emotionally and physically.

In another real example: ds likes to bug his sister sometimes. He makes a noise, she gets annoyed and tells him to stop, he makes more of that noise-typical sibling stuff. With regard to issues like these, we've talked a lot about who we can control. We can't control other people, we can only control ourselves. So in a situation like this we can ask someone to stop, but we can't really guarantee that they'll stop--and if they aren't stopping and we try to make them stop, there's a good chance we'll end up fighting. So what are our options for asking them to stop? What words can we use? What else could we do, besides asking them to stop? Ignore them? Leave the room? I mean, these kinds of things are common issues and I would like to help my kids learn to deal with it on their own-to empower them with skills-rather than just step in myself to say "ds, stop making that noise" every single time.

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I don't think that siblings should be disciplining each other. And that's what this method comes down to. You're making the siblings 'parent' each other.
I disagree. My kids have shown an incredible capacity to resolve conflict on their own, with our support and help (though it may not be a case of directly telling the kids what to do) and supervision (it's good to keep an ear/eye out to make sure it's going well). That's not children disciplining their siblings, that's children resolving an interpersonal conflict. Our kids know that if what their sibling is doing is dangerous or destructive, they should come to us for help. They know that if it's a problem they're really stuck on, and they're having trouble working it out on their own, they can come to us for help. What that help is going to look like will vary depending on the situation, and whether or not it's dangerous/destructive. But they know we're there to help.

And you know what? They seem happier, overall. Part of what makes it work for my family is that it feels okay to everyone, and that they're getting along better and having more fun together. When they don't perceive us as taking sides so that they have to compete for our favor/attention/love, then they are closer and happier with each other and fighting less often. Yes, it is frustrating sometimes in the moment when we won't do exactly what they want us to do (like tell so-and-so to give it back right now). And no sibling relationship is perfect, there will continue to be arguing and fighting at times. But they're not neglected, they're not unsupervised, their issues with their siblings are not ignored or left unaddressed. We do keep an eye out to make sure that one child isn't always dominating another-dd1 is a very bossy kid, very rigid and dominating. We can't let her simply dominate the other kids--all I'm saying is that we'll address this with dd1 privately, not in a dramatic display in front of the other kids. It'll be "I've noticed that lately...." and some problem-solving at a calm time, private reminders (hand signals, secret words, calling her over to whisper) about how to treat people, keeping an ear and an eye out and knowing when to have her take a break from the kids, helping the other kids learn to be assertive (talking with them privately, helping them come up with things they can do when they feel like they're being bossed around-including coming to us for help).

I am sorry your experience was so difficult. It is possible, imo, to go too far in letting kids work things out themselves-you can't just say "let 'em work it out themselves" and then not help them learn how to do that. At the same time, siblings have conflicts and part of learning to resolve conflict is to do it-not to always have your parents do it for you. Resolving conflicts is a critical, lifelong skill. At this point in their lives I'm here to keep them safe, emotionally and physically, so now is a good time for them to try it and learn it by doing (with a lot of support).
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#17 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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Kessed...what you describe is not how this looks in our family at all. It sounds to me like some element is missing, like your parents weren't plugged in as they say.

I judge how well they get along by their happiness with each other, their close relationship, how they hold hands while watching movies together(the little ones) or how they talk on the phone to each other for hours(my older girls~my oldest isn't at home anymore).

I spend tons of time with my girls individually and I talk to them a lot. They let me know if they are unhappy...there is no bullying going on here, there is occasional conflict but it's usually worked out quickly.

Sorry...I'm making dinner and have to run but I could just follow Sledg around with a anyway

This is a good discussion.
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#18 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 07:25 PM
 
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I have a challenge for you. Ask your kids how it makes them feel when they come to you for help and you turn it back to them.
Well the thing of it is my kids rarely argue anymore so it could take a while. I know this was directed to Sledg but to be on the safe side I will ask them the next time they have a disagreement.

(You watch..they will start bickering tonight and make a complete and utter liar out of me...)
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I would caution against the method suggested.

My parents used it and it was HORRIBLE to grow up with. I was really really awful to have a sibling do something to you which was clearly 'wrong' and get no back up. How the hell do you 'resolve' it when you sister already ate your chocolate?

It really hurt my self esteem. I learned that I couldn't trust my own thoughts about what was fair and right... It's taken me ALONG time to recover and start believing that I have value.

Allowing a kid who's using bulling behaviour to continue isn't the right way to go, IMO. And that's what continuing to 'breath' on a sibling is. It's allowing one child to continue to disrespect the other child. And it leads down a bad road in my experience.

I think that it matters what the different kids are like. But for some kids this method is pretty torturous.
Kessed, I just wanted to say that I had similar experiences when I was growing up and I agree with you about the potential downside to taking such a hands off approach to sibling disputes.

My parents were both educators, and I think they kind of over-intellectualized these sorts of issues in a way that just didn't work for small kids. My older sister got away with so much mean, bullying and downright rotten stuff when we were kids because she would in effect win when my parents would simply refuse to get involved in our disagreements. Telling the 5 year old me that it must have been upsetting to have my favorite new toy given to the dog to "play with" by my sister and asked how I could deal with similar situations better in the future seems absolutely crazy to the adult me. I really think that my sister would have been inclined to stop doing things like that if my parents had simply sat her down and told her to stop the negative behavior.

My kids are almost three now, and for the time being I do get involved in any dispute I witness first hand to help them resolve it. If I see one kid snatch away a toy and push his brother down to the ground I stop the offender, take back the toy, talk to him about why shouldn't do what he just did, and encourage him to make amends with his brother. I also make a point of comforting the hurt child and validating his feelings.

Just my $.02

Mom to twin boys (7/15/05), another boy 5/9/10, and our latest addition born 9/13/11!

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#20 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 07:57 PM
 
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I really think you need to read the book to really understand what the process is. And if it is approached correctly and applied in the manner described in the book it really works. If it's not working and the kids are still bickering/fighting all the time then obviously something is missing.

The thing of it is, my kids argue so rarely now that it's hard to say what I would do in situation xyz because they just don't arise. They don't bicker because they have learned how to negotiate things better. They problem solve. My little ones are 2.5 and nearly 5. I see very little conflict other than when a child is tired/hungry etc. which of course I can tell right away because it's out of the normal and I'm with my kids all day and know if they are sleep deprived or hungry and deal with that which is the real problem in those situations.

And with my older girls..they were 11 and 14 maybe when I first read the book. I had read SWR previously. Within a month it was like living in a diffent home. They responded so well and it was so subtle...something had changed in the dynamic but they didn't quite know what. And once the fighting stopped they suddenly related differently, they spoke to each other more kindly(because they were both awesome kids to everybody else but each other) and then tehy started building a relationship with each other and I started to see a change and within 6 months I'll say they were friends with each other..they went for walks together, we would catch them getting along, walking to the store to rent a movie together(they could never agree on which movie to get previously and this would have been major drama with both kids vying for me to make the decision in their favour). It just changed things.

My oldest just moved out and they call each other regularly. They always LOVED each other but now they like each other and get along and I'll even go as far as to say they respect each other.

And I did nothing else but apply the principles in this book.

I know my kids..if they felt slighted, favoured, bullied etc. they would tell me. They did tell me for years. Then I stopped refereeing them and things changed.

It was amazing to watch and I highly recommend reading this book. If you decide it won't work for your family then don't use it.

Kessed..I have a question for you. Did your parents actually read the book and tell you that's what they were doing? Because I never told my kids I was doing anything. I just did it. Don't know if that would have anything to do with the results they got. Oh and how is yoru relationship with your sister today?
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#21 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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I know my kids..if they felt slighted, favoured, bullied etc. they would tell me. They did tell me for years. Then I stopped refereeing them and things changed.
I learned not to complain too. Because it didn't get anything solved. I learned that I wasn't worth anything. I wasn't worth my parent's time. I was so worthless that it wasn't worth it to them to help me stand up to my much more overbearing sister. She is and was a very strong person. I can deal with it now as an adult. But as a child - I had no chance.

For example - we were giving a Sega Genisis for Christmas the year I was 7. We were supposed to 'share' it. My dad was VERY big on sharing. So how did it work out. I was 'allowed' (by my sister) to play for 15 minutes, long enough for my parents to see me playing and happy. Then I had to go away because I was 'done' playing and it was her turn for as long as possible. If I complained - then she would tell them that I'd had a turn and it was her turn and I'd agreed to it. If I tried to say that she'd had a longer turn - then my parents would tell us to figure it out or they'd put the game away... And what kind of 7yo is going to chance that! So I gave it. Everytime.

So they thought we were happy. They thought we got along great.

In fact - we do now. But only because I've learned how to stand up for myself and she's grown up too.

But I was still miserable as a child.


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Kessed..I have a question for you. Did your parents actually read the book and tell you that's what they were doing? Because I never told my kids I was doing anything. I just did it. Don't know if that would have anything to do with the results they got. Oh and how is yoru relationship with your sister today?
No. I'm sure they didn't read the book.

My relationship with her is better now. It used to be very toxic. She'd developed many ways to 'control' me - because she'd had lots of practice while we were 'working things out'.. And for many years I would love to spend time with her (after she moved out) but it was soooo hard. I had to submit or she'd stop spending time with me.

If I tried to be my own person and do my own thing - she would freak. Because she was so used to telling me how things were going to be.
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#22 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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Kessed, I just wanted to say that I had similar experiences when I was growing up and I agree with you about the potential downside to taking such a hands off approach to sibling disputes.
Thanks.

I was sure I wasn't the only one.

Maybe it would have worked better if there wasn't such an age difference. That put too much power in the hands of my older sisters.

Of course I wanted to do what they said - they were older and cooler. So they called all the shots. That doesn't make for a good relationship base.
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#23 of 46 Old 05-29-2008, 08:30 PM
 
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Kessed..it doesn't sound like what the book describes is actually what your parents did. It sounds like they simply sent you away to figure it out. I don't. I sympathise with them because they usually have a valid point, ask them if they have any ideas what to do about this, how they can make it work, sometime I will simply say "can you work it out" but I'm right there. My kids are never unattended(little ones)

and there is no way my very strong-willed, raised to speak their minds to me and everyone older kids wouldn't tell me if they had a problem such as what you describe in the sega genesis situation. They'd be all over me with that.

My kids don't get in trouble for complaining, we don't do punishment/consequences..I wonder if that's what makes the difference So they still know they can come to me. I just respond differently.

And I don't have the age difference you described. My kids are 2.5, almost 5, almost 14 and almost 18.
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Kessed

Thank you for sharing your experience. I think it is important to look at the downside no matter how well a strategy appears to be working.

Reading your post made me think about my 4 year old twins. Most of the time they appear to get along great. Sometimes Logan is really possesive of the toys, and will take things from Luke. I have on many occasions seen Luke give Logan things to avoid conflict. Then after he gives it to Logan, he is mad. I always felt that wasn't right that he felt that he had to give in to Logan, but wondered if I should do something about it, and if so what?

One strategy that works well (but I have to know what happened in order to be able to make it work) is to let who ever had the item first play with the toy for as long as they want. I don't let the other kids bug him, so that way he gets to fully enjoy the toy. I entertain the other kid(s) if neccesary so the child doesn't get his turn interrupted by the kids saying- it's my turn now or when is it going to be my turn. When the first child gets to enjoy the toy or game without interruption, I have found that they are much more willing to share.

Seems like I'm rambling, but wanted to share something that works pretty well at our house.
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Kessed, I had the same experience. However, my sister was only 4 years older than me. We were taught to work things out, given the correct tools to communicate, etc. Unfortunately, 99% of the time I ended up manipulated into something that was beneficial for her and not for me. And I was definitely "very strong willed and raised to speak my mind"! Plus side, I did learn quite a bit from it and am a much better communicator now. Con side, my sister and I have little to no relationship.

I think, as is everything with parenting, this method can work or not work dependent on a specific child's personality. For me, it isn't the end all be all answer (is there ever one in parenting?), but I incorporate it into my parenting in many ways.

I think there is a fine line to be walked and it is really tough. Hugs to everyone out there struggling!
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#26 of 46 Old 05-30-2008, 09:37 AM
 
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I think there is a fine line to be walked
Absolutely...and I think what has to happen is the parents have to be truly plugged in.

If the relationship of the siblings doesn't improve, if they don't truly start to act loving to each other and be kind to each other then I think the parents should start to question what they are doing in any situation.

In our home my older girls are very close friends and it's very heartwarming to see particularly after all the fighting they used to do.

OP...I highly recommend this book and other Anthony Wolfe books.

You know, my family was a family of three and as children we never fought. I can't remember anything my parents ever did to make it that way but I'm sure they didnt' read parenting books.. I wonder why we never fought and are all so close today. I also know we never had that manipulative/bully dynamic going on either. I am the oldest and I never bullied my siblings. I took care of them.
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#27 of 46 Old 05-30-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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Kessed..it doesn't sound like what the book describes is actually what your parents did. It sounds like they simply sent you away to figure it out. I don't. I sympathise with them because they usually have a valid point, ask them if they have any ideas what to do about this, how they can make it work, sometime I will simply say "can you work it out" but I'm right there. My kids are never unattended(little ones)

and there is no way my very strong-willed, raised to speak their minds to me and everyone older kids wouldn't tell me if they had a problem such as what you describe in the sega genesis situation. They'd be all over me with that.

My kids don't get in trouble for complaining, we don't do punishment/consequences..I wonder if that's what makes the difference So they still know they can come to me. I just respond differently.

And I don't have the age difference you described. My kids are 2.5, almost 5, almost 14 and almost 18.
Allgirls, it really does sound like you've managed to raise your girls in a way that avoided a lot of the sibling rivalry stuff. I think the part about not having adverse consequences for complaining probably helps and it sounds like you aren't completely dismissive when your kids come to you with conflicts.

I think the concern I have is with the "no taking sides" part of the book (which I admit I have not read in its entirety.) Is there ever a point where you would envision intervening in a dispute your kids were having? For example, if one sister were to take something away from a younger sister by physical force would you say something to the aggressor about why the little one is crying on the floor with a bump on her head?

Personally, I can't envision not having a discussion with the older one about why we don't hurt and how we may need to take turns with a toy even if we don't want to. As I said in my previous post, I really feel like my sister got away with a lot of bullying behavior when we were kids because my parents never wanted to get involved in "assigning blame" or "taking sides" even when it was abundantly clear that my sister had been the aggressor and had often inflicted physical injury of some kind on me.

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#28 of 46 Old 05-30-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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I think the concern I have is with the "no taking sides" part of the book (which I admit I have not read in its entirety.) Is there ever a point where you would envision intervening in a dispute your kids were having? For example, if one sister were to take something away from a younger sister by physical force would you say something to the aggressor about why the little one is crying on the floor with a bump on her head?
.
That's the part that really bugs me too.

There wasn't any 'physical' violence in our house. That was the only thing which really got my parents involved. So my sister was very careful to only use verbal manipulation.

But she got away with so many things. My parents didn't take side - but they should have.

It is a really lonely feeling to feel all alone when your 5 or 6. To know you were wronged in some way - and then not have your parent's back you up!!!! I KNEW my sister had done something wrong. But they wouldn't take sides. And it was very lonely. And, IMO, very damaging.

Most of the time side are worth taking.

So - to the people who advocate for this method. What do you think the message is that your send the child who feels wronged when you refuse to take sides?

I ask - because the way your kids are acting sounds very similar to the way my sister and I acted. We'd have a problem - we'd be told to solve it and we'd get 'help' in brainstorming ways to do that. And then we would appear to do so. And seem happy after. We rarely fought and did quite alot together. BUT the relationship was entirely one sided. My sister ran it. I did what she said - because I have no say.
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#29 of 46 Old 05-30-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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I think the concern I have is with the "no taking sides" part of the book (which I admit I have not read in its entirety.) Is there ever a point where you would envision intervening in a dispute your kids were having? For example, if one sister were to take something away from a younger sister by physical force would you say something to the aggressor about why the little one is crying on the floor with a bump on her head?
Absolutely...if you read the book it is suggested you intervene as soon as the behaviour starts bothering you..it's the way you intervene...I simply say "cut it out" at which point they either do or get seperated. Each child gets sent to their respecting neutral zone but there is no assigning blame and then when they each start telling me "but he started, no she started" etc. I simply say "ok, cut it out" and then seperate. BUT there is a further step. Later I would say to each child seperately "so what happened earlier?" and let them tell their side out of earshot of the other. However...99% of the time they didn't even know what it was about later because it was trivial.

I tried to do this as soon as it sounded as though it might become physical.

If they both come to me with a story of what happened and one was hurt I would reiterate our house rule "we don't hit in this house" and seperate them again. Since there would be two stories and I wasn't there I couldn't take sides...because it could very well be that the one who wasn't bruised had actually hit first. When I'm not there to listen I can't be sure. So again..I remain neutral and seperate them. Again...later I would likely seperately listen to each child's story and sympathise with their side however I remained neutral.

So there is a lot of talking going on before and after but during the fight it's about getting the intensity down and keeping them safe.

And since they can't get me to choose sides during the fight they don't fight..there is no payoff.

At the beginning, particularly with my older ones it was an evolution. But they stopped fighting because there was no payoff.

Now that doesn't mean they don't disagree of course..we all have disagreements but there is no more of the constant and mind numbing bickering over every.little.thing.

I have implemented the same thing with my little ones(in an age appropriate manner) and they rarely fight. There are frustrations and meltdowns that occur when one or the other is tired but that falls under the normal toddler/kid tantrum, not the kids fighting all the time thing that is prevented with the Wolfe books.

No matter what you do you always always have to be cultivating the relationship you have with your children. The relationship your children have with each other though is theirs. I think you have to prevent them from hurting each other however that's really all you can do.

My children are in the background now calling each other names..."You are a coocoo butt" "you're a monkey butt" but they are laughing their heads off..silly kids...lol..it's a funfight.

eta..in the case of someone being hurt..I would take care of them of course. I'd ice their bruise and cuddle them etc. I'd probably engage the other one in helping with that as well.
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#30 of 46 Old 05-30-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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That's the part that really bugs me too.

There wasn't any 'physical' violence in our house. That was the only thing which really got my parents involved. So my sister was very careful to only use verbal manipulation.
Unfortunately, my parents didn't really get involved when violence was involved either. They would comfort me if I was hurt, but they were still pretty hands off about hitting/pushing/poking etc. My sister also did the verbal manipulation thing too, basically it seemed that her MO was to find any way possible to maintain the upper hand in our relationship and insure that she got her way.

I do wonder if my parents subconsciously overidentified with my sister because they were both older siblings when they were growing up. I know my perspective as the younger child often affects how I view interactions in other sibling situations. On the other hand, it's pretty much a non-issue with my own kids since they are twins. Neither of them ever knew what life was like before the other one was born, and I think that may prevent some of the resentment that underlies more conventional sibling relationships.

Allgirls, I really like how you describe your dealings with your kids. It sounds much more equitable that just concluding you can't get involved because you weren't there.

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