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I loved this post, for the interviews with child researchers, the first-person vignettes of your family, and the questions you asked yourself throughout. I'm linking it to Motherlands. Thank you.
I have 3 kids, 13, 11 and 9. Two boys, girl in the middle. The ways in which I have chosen to handle their skirmishes amount to a few simple steps and, although we are not completely conflict free, we do enjoy a usual atmosphere of mutual value of all family members. Here is what I have done.1. 3 before me: When the kids have a conflict, they must complete 3 steps before coming to me for assistance. the first step is negotiation, the 2nd is to choose another activity, the 3rd is walk away. They all know that if I am called in to referee a dispute, the results will not be as attractive as if they resolve it on their own, and their results are usually equitable. 2. In a family, as in life, fairness has little to do with all things being equal, and everything to do with timing and circumstance. In other words, one child might benefit from making the trip to the grocery by getting a treat, while the other two do not. However, this inequity will be resolved at some future date n accordance with being in the right place at the right time. The results? When one child accompanies me to the grocery or what have you, they always think of their siblings and ask that a treat can be chosen for them, too.3. Give them their independence. When kids feel empowered to get their own juice, put away their own laundry, do homework without a hovering parent, they learn to respect the autonomy of their siblings, as well, and this results in a relationship of equals rather than competitors. Plainly a toddler can't get his own juice, but he/she can carry his or her own belongings (diapers, wipes, whatever) in a kid sized backpack or whatever other empowering task you may choose. Because of the limited space, i am dramatically simplifying these tactics, but they have worked for my family. I will happily discuss them further with anyone who asks.
I loved this. I have 2 girls, both pushing 40 now... and becoming better friends as the years go by. Not that they don't fight... boy can they! They are also each others staunchest defenders. Back to back fighting off the world if need be. When they were small I used an idea that I read somewhere: I lit a candle and told them it was me and the flame was all the love I had in my heart, then I lit a 2nd candle from the first and said it was daddy and I was giving him all the love in my heart - explaining how even though I gave him all the love in my heart the flame of my candle was just as big; then I lit two more candles - one for each of them, I explained each time that I was giving all the love I had in my heart but the flame didn't get smaller. Anyway, it seemed to help them see how love can be shared and that loving another doesn't take away from anyone. Thank you so much for a wonderful article.
Fantastically written and very well researched.
Fantastic article. Great research. Makes so much more sense than today's constant refrain that children should be left to work it out themselves. Kids work it out in all kinds of savage ways that have nothing to do with what they are arguing about on the surface.
I've noticed most people don't like their siblings much. There are a few lucky exceptions, but not many. (I don't quite understand why you let the baby shove the older girl out of your lap when you seemed to see it coming.)
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