Sibling rivalry is inevitable, right? Tattling is normal, right? Bickering, backtalk, and fighting is common, right? I guess so, but it can make you want to pull your hair out. I am trying really hard to keep it "civil" at our house, although I have my fair share of ugly moments. I don't want to allow it to escalate into nasty and hurtful behavior which we tend to save for those we love the most. You know, the ones that will never leave.
Over time, I have come across some strategies to help keep it "civil" either at home or at school. Also, it teaches them to more independently solve their own conflicts...YEAH! This is especially necessary if you are outnumbered by children. I thought I'd share some and find out what works for you.
*Tattle Tale Tilly and Tattle Tale Tommy: One of the kid's daycare providers, when they were 3-4 years old, had cute cartoon figures of a girl, "Tattle Tale Tilly," and a boy, "Tattle Tale Tommy" on opposite ends of one wall. When the kids came to tell on one another (when clearly no danger was present), she'd tell them to go tell "Tattle Tale Tilly/Tommy." They'd either get it off their chest by telling their side of the story or decide to move on. Either way, it seemed to diffuse the situation a little.
*"Don't squeal if it's not a big deal.": L and I can't remember where we got this one from but it works. It cues the kids to think before they tattle. It is a mom's first line of defense. If no one is in danger (i.e. bleeding), no major rule is being broken, or if something was an accident, it is probably not a big deal.
*A bug and a wish: PT came home with this suggestion on his classroom newsletter. His teacher prompts them to address conflict by saying, "It bugs me when ________. I wish you would __________." I think it is great because the kids have to verbalize a solution.
*"Talk to him about it first. If you can't work it out, then I'll help you both figure it out."
*Are you being a bucket filler or a bucket dipper: I talked about this one in an earlier post about our favorite kid books. Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, presents a simple concept about being kind and caring (bucket filler) or unkind (bucket dipper). It explains that "dipping" from someone's bucket also "dips" from your own bucket.
*"Is that a good choice or a bad choice?" or " Is that helpful or hurtful?": These questions prompt them to make their own judgment on what they did or said. Is the tantrum helping them get what they want or does hitting make them actually want to share with you? You get the point. When PT was really little, he'd do something wrong and say in his deep little toddler voice, "Bad choice." It was pretty cute.
When all of this fails and I need to either scream or laugh, I'll make a ridiculous statement like, "Don't make me pick up your brother and beat you with him." It usually lightens the mood and no one gets hurt.
Did you come from a big family? How the heck do you or how did your parents handle family fighting and bickering?