Their pushing and shoving pushed me to make a great discovery
One evening, the older one pushed the younger one, and as he was falling, he stepped on a traffic sign that was part of a “street” his older brother had built. He was extremely proud of what he had built, but instead of yelling, he ran to his younger brother to help.
He started crying and called out to me: “Mommy! Mom! Krystof is bleeding! I pushed him, and he fell on a traffic sign. Mommy, come here!” Before I got to them, I heard him talking softly: “Don’t worry, buddy, it will be okay. I’m here with you. I’m right here. Mommy will take care of it, and you’ll feel better soon. Mommy, tell me he’s going to be okay. Please, I’m really scared for him!”
It wasn’t anything serious, and his foot was better in just a few days. But I will remember this accident until the end of my days. It helped me understand that their rough-housing bothered mostly me. Just because they’re fighting and arguing, it doesn’t mean they don’t love and care about each other.
I guess I imagined brotherly love would be all sunshine and puppies.
They should always be nice to each other and stick together through thick and thin. Like Frodo and Sam.
And the smallest deviation from this ideal is bad. And so it upset me when instead of two sweet angels, I was pulling apart two wild dogs. :)
A month into our experiment, I realized that they were still arguing, but ever since that incident with the cut heel, it was somewhat different. Their arguing was a lot milder. They still fight, but it only lasts a minute or so, and after that they are enjoying each other's company, laughing and having fun.
Then it clicked. This is how they’re slowly learning to communicate. I gave them the opportunity
to learn to address and handle problems by themselves, in a safe environment and without feeling intimidated by a grownup supervising the whole process
and telling them right from wrong.
First thing: “Do not interfere” worked for us even in the long term
After a few months, the number of arguments decreased by approximately 80%, and they are shorter and much less violent. I don’t interfere, but I do keep an eye on them. And each of my sons gets a big serving of one-on-one attention. And love.
Because I’ve noticed another important thing: It doesn’t really matter whether or not I divide the one-on-one time with my sons equally.
I would often try really hard to split the time between my boys fairly. Soon I realized it was like giving water to the hungry.
I was giving love to the child who didn’t “need” it at that moment, while leaving out the child who could use a cuddle.
This sometimes means that I spend a whole day snuggling with one son because he really needs the extra attention. It took me a while to decode the secret of a perfect balance: Every child has a different love language.
Second thing: I figured out what each of them sees as love
Generally speaking, I thought the main way children receive love was through physical contact: hugs, kisses or snuggling. But my older son is not like my younger one – he doesn’t need a lot of cuddles. However, he loves when I sit next to him and watch quietly while he’s doing something without joining in (he likes to be in charge of his games and rarely asks me to be part of it).
That’s what assures him he’s loved and important to me. When I do that, he glows. Whereas when I hug or kiss him, he doesn’t really pay attention and sometimes even growls grumpily: “No, mom, stop it!” (though I still sometimes do it because I enjoy it, and he doesn’t mind too much. Especially when I watch him play.) :)
And the younger one thrives on and loves physical contact.
So when I want to show them my love, I do what makes each one of them happy.
And you know what? I think I finally found the right balance, because the boys are now fighting even less often!
Many times, sibling rivalry stems from jealousy. They feel like they are not getting enough one-on-one attention from their mom. And because I realized that each of them needs a different expression of love, I can now give them exactly what they need.
Every evening, I spend half an hour with each of them. I put Krystof to bed while Tomas is playing on the computer. Krystof likes to read books at bedtime. Tomas, on the other hand, enjoys hearing about the big floods in Prague in 2002 – over and over again.
And we’re all happy.
With great respect and love,
Right, but it’s not always this rosy
Even if parents try with all their might to settle everything and to pay enough attention to all their children, brothers and sisters can still sometimes be at each other’s throats. It’s pretty much impossible to have a peaceful atmosphere in a family where every other day parents try to settle violent arguments or to find out who hit whom.
If mom and dad want to avoid a breakdown, they need to be on firm ground
Bara and her boys managed. The fact that she was able to change the way they communicated also had a big impact. This is one of the issues we deal with in the Unparenting course.
One whole week out of the five-week course is dedicated to the topic of sibling relationships and communication. Many videos, assignments and exercises will allow you to get to the real root of your trouble. And it will help you dig it out once and for all :).
Just like Petra did after she completed the course. Now her kids can actually talk instead of trying to kill each other: