We have all heard about “sibling rivalry”… heck, most of us have lived it. I am an only child so I didn’t have to share my toys and when the time came that there was someone my age for me to play with I was all too happy to share. I really cannot relate much to others who grew up with brothers and sisters around – but I sure can relate to parents who at times have to referee ridiculous sibling disputes like – who chooses the show to watch, what to watch, which sister does not want to lend her shirt to the other, how unfair xyz is because “she” doesn’t deserve it… the situations that I musy intervene on sometimes actually make me laugh because in the niaivity of childhood my daughters “problems” seem so major to them and I am in the corner wishing my only issue was that “Hailey [2nd daughter] used my hair brush” as is my first daughter’s cry at times.
All in all I appreciate that differences are to be expected and all eyes are on mommy to see how she handles these situations and I am keen on admitting that my behavior will surely be mimicked by my girls so before I act on anything these days I stop, breath and try to remember to ask myself “would I want my kids to say/do this?”.
As you could imagine, a household of 7 little women is not straight-forward – as mother I am expected to remember who likes mustard on their hot dogs, which school project is due tomorrow, everyone’s PE day, appointments, meetings and a list of other arrangements that I do not even want to rat off here because typing them will add stress to my “just breath” routine.
With everything that transpires in my life on a daily basis there are few things I would change to be honest because I realize that time is swiftly passing and as I grow and mature I am wanting more and more and more time with my children; but times can no doubt become chaotic sometimes and that is when it is very important for me to remember ways to pratice patience. It is my desire for peace (especially after years of living in domestic violence) that drives me to emphasise to my children the importance of loving eachother – the good, the bad… and the annoying. My eldest 3 daughters can get a little ticked-off by the younger ones sometimes (like when they are watching their “grown-up” teen flicks that the 2, 4 and 6 year olds have no interest in so they have their typical noisy playtime in the living room as the elder strain to hear what is happening for example).
Overall though, my elder daughters are amazing with their sisters and the responsibility of helping with them has molded and shaped them in to very matured, sensible young ladies thus far. In order to create some structure to the big sister routine I created the “Sister-mother” idea within our home and paired each of the 3 eldest to one of the 3 youngest with the youngest (of course) being entrusted to me. This meant that each “Sister-mother” would assist me with any little tasks needed by her “Sister-daughter”, such as:
- Brushing teeth, combing hair, grabbing a glass of water, finding an outfit, helping with bathtime, even irong a uniform or assisting with homework or extra home learning, in fact, my eldest taught daughter #4 hour to spell her name and worked to teach her the alphabet before she started her primary/elementary education
This arrangement has played a momentus role in how our home and family can function without too much slipping through the cracks; the solid educational foundation the elder girls received is now being shared and passed down to their younger sisters. My job as mommy is to manage and oversee the entire operation, provide guidance and support, and provide all the necessary tools required to make everything happen in a healthy environment equiped with learning tools such as books, crafts, software and creative home-made learning tools that make teaching even easier and always conveniently available like our learning place-mats.
I also have to make certain that there is a list of activity ideas available to fill in those idle moments of “boredom” and which allow for opportunities of teaching, learning and bonding like baking cakes, group coloring and puzzles or even simply styling each others hair (which is my fave because with 7 little girls, there is a lot of hair styling for mommy to do alone!)
Sibling rivalry is going to happen, no one can be expected to agree 100% on everything, but as parents it is vital that we direct the boundless energy of our children to positive, constructive, character-building activities that encourage them to work together, care for each other and understand one another. The more we allow such sibling bonding moments to happen, the more our kiddies will gain confidence in their family setting which will in turn provide the open, safe feeling a young adult requires to grow and develop while getting answers to the many questions they begin to form about life.
As someone with no biological siblings I am super blessed to have one special person who has been like a sister to me since toddlerhood and I do recall a couple petty disagreements that help me to understand what my daughters face within their sibling relationship. I trust that when they grow up they will also look back and laugh at some of the wacky things theh disagreed about too!
How do you encourage your children to cooperate with each other? Do you remember disagreeing with your siblings?