“Most parents would readily admit that they always envisioned their children not only getting along but considering each other to be their best and closest friends,” claims Michele Borba. “So it’s a rude awakening when your children’s tears, battles, friction, and jealousies replace your image of a lifetime of love, friendship, and adoration.”
Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me argues that there’s no point in trying to make things equal because it’s impossible; however, Borba believes there are things you can do to minimize jealousies, conflicts, and bickering so your kids will appreciate one another.
Here are a few causes of sibling battles, resentment, and animosity:
- Do you expect more of your oldest child?
- Do you pamper your youngest?
- Do you compare your kids in front of each other?
- Do your eyes light up with the same intensity when you see each of your kids?
- Do you provide opportunities for each child to nurture her special talents?
- Do you distribute chores, rewards, and opportunities fairly among your kids?
- Do you expect your kids to share their friends?
- Are they always together when their friends come over?
- Is it causing resentment because there’s no ‘alone’ time with friends?
Of course, once you’ve identified why your children aren’t better friends, you not only need to change your behavior accordingly, but if the goal is to solve problems without an adult, then you need to remove yourself as mediator, negotiator, or problem solver.
Instead, Borba suggests you try teaching your kids to do the following:
- Calm down.
- Figure out the real problem.
- Focus on the problem, not the sibling. In other words, no blaming, no name-calling, and no put-downs.
- Use an ‘I message’ to say what’s bothering you, such as “I get really upset when you take my stuff.”
- Agree to a fair solution without a parent.
According to Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, one of the biggest obstacles to siblings being friends is them getting so caught up in feeling they’re being treated unfairly that they don’t stop to think how the other person might be feeling. “Studies show that preschool- and kindergarten-age kids are just beginning to develop the ability to think about how other people feel; they’ll need help and constant reminders to think about how (a sibling) might feel.”
What should you do? Borba suggests, “You write a list of what you like most and what you like least about each child. If your list is more slanted to one side or the other, it may signal you have a potential problem.” So do some honest reflecting and make a commitment to change your behavior. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how many parenting books, articles, or blogs you read. You might be condemning yourself to a life of arguments, tears, and hurt feelings.
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Also, check out Victoria Winterhalter’s blog, Befriending Forty, and find out what happens when the person you thought you’d be meets the person you actually became.