This spring Anton and Toby were arguing more than usual, and that makes us a little crazy. So! I turned around Becky Kennedy, an amazing clinical psychologist and mother of three, and here is some amazing advice she gave …
“Having a brother and sister is really very difficult” was the first thing that Dr. Becky said over the phone. And I nodded, remembering the ups and downs I experienced growing up in a family with three children. “The sibling quarrel is COMPLETELY NORMAL,” she assured.
Further, I expected that Dr. Becky launched in a million ways the siblings drive each other up the wall, but she actually stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. It all comes back to “attachment security,” she explained, which is basically as much as every child feels safe in the family. How do I feel seen? Do I have a place in this family? Do I feel valued for who I am? She continued: “Brothers and sisters are competitors in achieving what the child feels safe – parental love and connection. As soon as a child feels insecure in this way, his sibling becomes a threat. Conversely, the more a child feels safe and secure in these ways, the less the child views the sibling as a competitor, and the more the sibling as a friend. “
Bottom: When sibling rivalry is at its peak, it is actually a sign that the child does not feel safe or secure in their position in the family, especially with the parents. The more we make each child feel valued and valued, the more quality we spend time with the child, the better the sibling relationship will improve.
(Note, says Dr. Becky: “None of this is a parental mistake. Just looking at it in that light gives us a ton of strength. Oh, it’s amazing because I can affect the sibling relationship, and I don’t even need anything to happen between them. “)
After talking with dr. Becky on the phone, I was curious to learn more, so I watched it online workshop on sibling dynamics. (There are 60 minutes of classes, followed by 15-minute questions.) And here’s what popped up for me.
“The biggest single thing children need to endure with their siblings is more one-on-one with their parents”, Said dr. Becky. “Ten minutes of one-on-one with a parent does more for family peace than anything else.”
She explained the rules:
1) Just you and your child. No partner, no other kids, no screen, no distractions.
2) Join the world of your child. Don’t direct a play. It is your child’s choice.
3) Do not ask your child during those 10 minutes. (Asking questions is a position of power – even “What kind of tower are you building?”) Simply REFLECT (just describe what they do) and a MIRROR (e.g. you can build a tower next to them). Give them your full attention.
Last weekend I followed the advice of Dr. Becky and I spent some time with Toby and then with Anton. Alex did the same. And it seems to be already helping. Last night was bedtime so calm – the boys chatted and laughed, never shouting or arguing. I almost boiled over.
What do you think? How do your kids get along these days? Have you tried one-on-one with them? If you want to know more, offers dr. Becky workshops and there is new podcast. You can also find it at Instagram. (This is not a sponsored post, I’m just grateful for her insights!)
(Photo by Courtney Rust / Stocksy.)