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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a DH (we've been married about 6 months) a DD (5) DS (9) from a previous marriage and now a DSS (7).

My DD and DS are 4 years apart. They have never really been competitive with each other. In fact, I've been surprised how extremely loving and helpful they almost always are to each other. My DSS is very sweet and nice most of the time. He is more "disciplined" than my children...meaning if you tell him to do something he usually just does it. My kids tend to ask why which drive my DH a little crazy, but I don't have a problem explaining things. I think it's good that they don't just do as they are told (but this is going on a whole different thread LOL).

Anyway, DSS is right in the middle of my 2 and all of a sudden things have become very competitive. I think this may just be a sibling issue because now they are all 2 years apart instead of 4, but it is bothering me and I want some solutions to squelch it just a bit without making anyone feel bad. DSS just seems to make everything about who has more or whats "fair". I've never really tried (or felt like I needed to) make things fair...to me fair is getting what each child needs not about making things equal.

Let me give an example: We are signed up for the library reading program and you get stickers for each day you read. After 25 stickers, you return the chart to the library and get a prize pack. DSS had 2 more stickers than DD (because I hadn't asked her dad if they read over the weekend yet) and DSS said "I'm totally kicking your butt! I have more stickers than you". DD started to get a little weepy. My response was "We are doing great with the sticker charts
It's not a contest though. We are going to turn them in when everyone's goal is met."

Another: They have certain spots at the kitchen table that they sit at, but DSS always runs to DS's seat and than says "I got here first". DS has some sensitivities (poss OCD) and gets upset. DSS has his own special place right next to DS! I have been making DSS move and kindly saying "everyone sits in their own seats
" DH thinks that DS should just get over it because it is just a seat, but I think there will be less chaos if they just know where they are sitting. We have a similar problem with the couch, car, the order of brushing teeth...it's absurd. I've never had to deal with this kind of sibling rivalry. DSS tells the kids they can't do certain things on days he isn't there because it "isn't fair", but his life doesn't stop when he leave our house. I don't want DSS to feel like I am picking on him, I just want some of these things to become a non-issue. Any ideas?

Oh and some extra info: DSS was an only child and is an only child at his mom's house. We have him every week day during the summer and every other weekend. Before I came into the picture he was at daycare every day. Also, the kids get along very well other than this competitive issue. Oh and I am expecting a baby in Oct.

Oh one more: If I give the kids a snack and I give more to one of the kids, they argue over who gets that bowl! This never happened before. I usually give DS a little more because....uhhhh..he's bigger...like a foot taller! Besides, I will give them more if they eat it and are still hungry, so what is the big deal?! This hasn't ever been an issue before.
 

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Coming from a family where my brother was 1 1/2 years ahead of me and my next brother was 1 1/2 years after me...

but DFs family was 4 and 3 years apart...

the competitive issue comes as a childs personality trait rather than age differences. DFs older brother is VERY competetive, and hes 4 years older than DF. My siblings and I rarely got competetive...

Its a good thing, if you keep it under control how you are. If you teach them that it is okay to NOT win but also okay to WANT to win... then they tend to strive better in sports and school.
 

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I'd bet that a lot of this is coming about because dss used to be an only child and now he's one of three. Also he doesn't even get to be "the Oldest" or "the Baby" he got plopped right down into the middle, so he is probably really insecure about his position in the family. It's probably even scarier for him because you're expecting a new baby too. He's probably afraid that now he won't even be special by being his dad's only kid. So while you definitely want to curb the behavior its important to be sensitive to where it's coming from.

As far as the issue with the sticker charts, I think you handled it great. Though personally this is one of my issues with sticker charts, if you're dealing with more than one child (in a family or at school) it automatically becomes a competition (at least for children who naturally have a competitive streak). I think it's important not to tolerate putting others down to make oneself feel better, but it sounds like he's really looking for some positive attention, so I would try to find other ways to give that to him.

The seat thing would bother me too. If it's really important to your ds to have his same seat everyday because of certain personality differences or borderline special needs, I think that should be respected. However I think I would ask dss what it is he likes about that particular seat (my assumption is that deep down he's doing it just to get a rise out of ds, but you should give him the benefit of the doubt) I might try letting dss pick his permanent seat first and then let the other kids pick theirs. that way dss feels he has more control over the situation. Some kids just can't handle being told where they have to sit. If after he's picked his seat he still tries to take ds's seat, I would call dss on it. I would say, " It seems like you are trying to take ds's seat because you know it gets him upset, that's not okay with me"

eta: I think its important that you and dh get on the same page about the seats at least in front of the kids because dss may be using it as a way to get his dad to side with him over you and the other kids and that isn't healthy.

Also you might want to try reading Siblings without Rivalry, it's by the same Author as How to talk so kids will listen. It definitely deals with the issue of "who has more in their bowl" The book suggests that you don't focus on everything being equal, but on everyone getting what they need. So the response would be to dss "oh are you feeling really hungry? Would you like a bit more? How much more do you think you need to feel full?" So you never even argue about what's fair or equal. The concern is always on getting everyone's needs met.

Anyway good luck, it sounds like these are typical family growing pains.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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I think its important that you and dh get on the same page about the seats at least in front of the kids because dss may be using it as a way to get his dad to side with him over you and the other kids and that isn't healthy.
hmmmm...you may have something here. He doesn't do this at lunch anymore (after the first few times). I basically made it clear that everyone has their seats and he hasn't questioned it. Usually the seat issue comes up at dinner when his dad is home and I think it makes DSS feel good to have his dad tell DS that it's not a big deal (even though it is a big deal to DS). I talked to DH about this saying that I know that DS has some sensitivities (that we are working with a therapist to help) but that I don't think we should make life purposely difficult for him. He hadn't thought of it this way and agreed with me. DSS only makes an attempt to sit in DS's seat when DS is there. If he is gone for whatever reason, he sits in his seat without even thinking about it.

Quote:
I'd bet that a lot of this is coming about because dss used to be an only child and now he's one of three. Also he doesn't even get to be "the Oldest" or "the Baby" he got plopped right down into the middle, so he is probably really insecure about his position in the family. It's probably even scarier for him because you're expecting a new baby too. He's probably afraid that now he won't even be special by being his dad's only kid. So while you definitely want to curb the behavior its important to be sensitive to where it's coming from.
Yes, I agree that he may be feeling a little insecure. I really try to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He really loves being here. He gets upset when he has to go back to his moms. On the weekends that I don't have DD and DS, we still have DSS and he asks constantly when the kids are coming back. I don't think he is even aware how competitive he is. I definitely don't think he is doing this consciously which is why I'd like to curb the behavior without punishment or making anyone feel bad. I just try to keep a pleasant attitude. He absolutely is ecstatic about having a new baby. He also has told me that I should have 5 more kids because he needs more brothers and sisters


I've gotten the the habit of things like when I am making burgers and asking what they would like on them, I ask them by name. DSS what would you like on your burger? Unfortunately after I ask him I will ask DD what she would like and DSS will repeat his order again over the top of DD. Then I have to say "DSS I know you want such and such, now I need to know what DD would like" It's almost comical if it weren't so annoying.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Conifer View Post

I've gotten the the habit of things like when I am making burgers and asking what they would like on them, I ask them by name. DSS what would you like on your burger? Unfortunately after I ask him I will ask DD what she would like and DSS will repeat his order again over the top of DD. Then I have to say "DSS I know you want such and such, now I need to know what DD would like" It's almost comical if it weren't so annoying.
In this specific instance, I wonder if it might help if you repeat back his "order" before you ask DD what she would like. This helps a lot with my son -- I think he feels heard when he gets verbal feedback.
 

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I think this is a general still needing attention thing. my DS does this all the time, especially when i try to ask his sister what she wants. i just say im sorry ill be right with you im tlaking to dd right now.
 

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It sounds like you know your kids very well and are already sensitive to meeting the needs of all of them. Your family is 6 months young, and your patient, positive approach has already set you in the direction of having a successful blended family. I wish my step-mother would have been more like you. Keep it up!


I agree with this suggestion:

Quote:

Originally Posted by junipermuse View Post
I might try letting dss pick his permanent seat first and then let the other kids pick theirs. that way dss feels he has more control over the situation. Some kids just can't handle being told where they have to sit. If after he's picked his seat he still tries to take ds's seat, I would call dss on it. I would say, " It seems like you are trying to take ds's seat because you know it gets him upset, that's not okay with me"
I had this same idea as I read about this issue, and if your DS is okay with changing seats to accommodate DSS's selection, it's a win-win, as long as it means your DS can have a regular position at the table.

My DH and I had a baby a little over two years ago, and my DD and DS from my previous marriage absolutely adore her; there is no rivalry there, so I can see why a new baby might be very different for your DSS than being placed in the middle of two step-siblings. A shared sibling may be the glue that draws everyone together.
 
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