This week, we asked our mothers about sibling rivalry.
I don't remember this being a huge issue with my children. One boy, one girl, different ages, different interests—not a lot of competition there. However, I do remember the rivalry over who got to ride in the front passenger seat! One would shout "shotgun!" and the chaos would begin. It took a while but I finally figured that one out. My children were not allowed to ride in the front seat! End of discussion! I told them that it was dangerous, and I simply would worry too much about their safety.
I think some children are more competitive than others, and some keep score on every little thing. I see this all of the time in my classroom. I find that the less an adult buys into this behavior, the less of a problem it is. Pick your battles and forget about trying to be fair. It just won't happen!
There's a photograph on my dresser of my oldest, aged 3, with his days-old brother draped over his lap. A quizzical look is on both their faces, as if to say "'Where did you come from and why are you here?"
It may just be the only peaceful moment the two of them have ever shared.
They are each at their own end of the spectrum: One wakes up in a new world each day, no grudges, happy to be alive. The other wishes he could do school work from bed. Where one is gregarious and sociable, the other is quiet and introverted. One loves sports; the other, music and movies.
And they both compete for attention in their own way, whenever and however they possibly can. Physical competition (showing off), mental games (teasing), one-up-manship, eating the last brownie ... well, THAT always gets my attention.
Sibling rivalry, according to PsychCentral.com, creates a better social understanding for children about their emotions and feelings, and helps them to connect the two to internal and external motivations. So, when the older one is teasing the younger one, the tease-ee is supposed to eventually come to understand the tease-er's emotions—jealousy, hunger—and make a connection.
Sit me in an antpile and watch me make connections...
But I'm supposed to tell you my way of dealing with sibling rivalry. Turns out, according to PsychCentral again, I'm actually doing something right in this mom gig.
I talk to them about how they feel—"How would YOU like to be eaten alive by swarms of ants?" Elaborate on ideas—"Good thing you didn't drench him in pancake syrup!" And highlight different points of view— "Your brother doesn't like how he smells with calamine lotion all over him either!"
I make them connect their feelings to their brother's feelings.
In other words, I give them exactly what they're looking for: my undivided, one-on-one attention...
It's a premium tool of motherhood that should only be dispensed in small quantities, ever mindful of future consequences.
Because when I'm old, and I hide my husband's teeth so I can swipe the last brownie, I'll have my answer ready when I get my share of attention: "Who, me?"
About Moms Talk
Moms Talk is a new feature on Dallas-Hiram Patch that is part of a new initiative to reach out to moms and families.
We invite you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Paulding County.
Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.
Moms, dads, grandparents and the diverse families who make up our community will have a new resource for questions about local neighborhood schools, the best pediatricians, 24-hour pharmacies and the thousands of other issues that arise while raising children.
Moms Talk will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic.