When your kids fight over the fact that they have nothing to fight over, it’s time for some good sibling rivalry solutions! Our pediatrican recommended this!
“MOM? MOM! MOOOMMMM? MOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!! He’s doing IT again! Can you come tell him to stop it?”
I told the kids to get in the van so we can make it to school on time. Apparently that’s the same as telling them to race to the car, fight over who opens the door first, who gets IN the van first and who sits down in their seat first. I should have known better. I DO know better, but I had hoped that they would stop arguing for just ONE day.
Apparently it was too lofty of a wish this chilly January morning.
After a quick scuffle outside of the van, in the doorway of the van and finally inside the van, all the kids are seated, buckled and ready for school.
The kids look at me anxiously in the rear view mirror. They know I am irritated with their behavior… well, that’s putting it mildly. I am really pissed and annoyed that every single morning starts with a race and an argument (or several of them.)
If, for some reason, they don’t have anything to fight over, they will end up fighting over the fact that there is nothing to fight over – trust me – I’ve witnessed it!
This morning I have run out of words to express my dissatisfaction and disappointment in their behavior. We drive to school in silence. Complete silence… and I know that pains the kids more than if I talked to them.
I should address the issue… but I have nothing “educational” or encouraging to say. I remain quiet – for the time being.
We have four boys, the chance of someone disagreeing at any point during the day is high.
Actually, let me give credit where credit is due. Only two of the four kids don’t get along, in the grand scheme of things, it could be a lot worse. However, when these two get in close proximity of each other, they are sure to argue over anything – and everything – and this morning was no different, obviously.
“Mama, he’s looking at me! He’s sitting next to me. He is asking to play with me. He is copying me. He’s breathing on me…” The reasons for their disagreements are endless and maddening.End #SiblingRivalry with this tip from our children's pediatrician. It works! #ParentingWin Click To Tweet
Thankfully the kids never physically fight, but the verbal assaults make my ears bleed after listening to their bickering for more than 7 minutes at a time.
It drives all of us crazy in the house and we have tried just about anything to break them of this horrible habit, but with limited success… until THIS day.
I will never forget the day! It has gone down in our family’s history as “the day sibling rivalry/ squabbles/ arguments/ battles died.”
After dropping the two oldest off at school, it was time to take Jansen for his five-year well visit. His birthday is in November, but due to back-to-back illnesses, I wasn’t able to get him in for a non-sick appointment until January. Our Pediatrician has over the years become like family to us. The kids see him more often than they see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, put together, so I guess it’s only natural for them to feel comfortable around their pediatrician.
The doctor entered the exam room and Jansen immediately started to giggle. I had just told him that he’s old enough to answer the doctor’s questions himself, so he was eager to start a dialog.
The doctor and I spent the first few minutes of our appointment catching up on the other three kids and their health, as we do every time we see each other.
And then he turned his attention to Jansen, who at this point was BURSTING at the seams with excitement over talking to the doctor on his own.
“So Jansen, tell me – how are you doing at school?”
“Do you have friends at your school?”
“Yup, Christopher is my friend, Mia and Isabella are my friends too!”
“That’s great. I am glad to hear you have so many friends.”
“How are things at home, Jansen?”
“Good… I guess. Well, no… things aren’t good at home. Jordan and I bug each other and then we argue and he’s mean to me – all the time.”
I laugh nervously… I always tell people that I can’t be held responsible for anything Jansen says. He speaks from his heart and he speaks the truth, there is simply no censoring that child – nor should there be. But at that very movement, I worry about what our doctor thinks and how he will handle Jansen’s revelation.
And that’s when the magic happened. Our pediatrician dropped a truth bomb on Jansen, arming him with the most powerful tool anyone could have given him – and since then, the dynamics in our family have changed.
The doctor smiled at me, he smiled at Jansen and then he said the words that changed everything.
“Jansen, I know how annoying brothers can be. I do. But do you know what happens when someone annoys you?”
“NO?!?!” said Jansen, with eyes as big as saucer cups.
“When someone is annoying, you have a CHOICE of how you react. You can CHOOSE to be irritated, get mad and argue with the person. OR you can CHOOSE to ignore the person, walk away and do your own thing. It takes two people to argue. If you CHOOSE not to fight then there’s no argument. How YOU react is YOUR CHOICE!”
Jansen got quiet. I was definitely quiet… not wanting to interrupt the moment the two of them were having. I wasn’t sure if Jansen really understood everything our pediatrician had just told him. But slowly, I could tell that relief flooded over Jansen. He stood a little taller, smiled a bit more confidently and then his face broke out in a big grin!
“So you mean to tell me, I don’t HAVE to argue with Jordan? If he bugs me, I can just walk away? Hmmmmmm….” – and in an old-man fashion, he grabbed his chin and looked deep in thought.
Both the doctor and I laughed. Watching Jansen feel empowered with the option to CHOOSE to walk away from conflict was one of the best moments in motherhood.
The rest of the appointment went smoothly and as we were walking out the door, the doctor reminded Jansen: “now don’t forget, it is a CHOICE both you and Jordan have to be annoyed. CHOOSE not to be annoyed and see how that goes!”
It’s now been 4 months since our pediatrician cured our kids’ sibling rivalry. I have to say, of all the things I tried before, articles and books I read, methods I implemented, those few empowering words carried more weight and were more effective than anything else I tried.
Do the kids still argue? Sure they do. But the difference is now that they will tell each other “I choose not to let you annoy me right now…” and then walk away.
Empowering a child with a choice of how a situation makes him feel, changes the dynamics from victim to decision maker. He is no longer powerless when his brother starts bugging him – he is powerful.
I can only hope that our pediatrician’s words ring loud and clear in our kids’ heads as they go through life. I pray that they will feel empowered to walk away from situations and they CHOOSE not to let other people’s words and actions get them down.
Until then, it is music to my ears when I hear Jansen and Jordan’s little voices throughout the house “I choose not to let this annoy me.”
Don’t miss this other popular post with more sibling rivalry solutions!