Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

Fight time

Brothers - Best of Friends or Worse of Enemies?

A couple of months ago, I had written a letter to my sons titled Brother Love. In that letter I had told them of my top 3 pet peeves and my top 3 likes when I observe them interacting with each other.
Given how the interactions of brothers usually result in sibling rivalry, I would like to follow up with a post on how such rivalry is managed. A disclaimer first, the methods suggested are not mainstream nor written by a non practising parent ( you would be surprised that some tips offered elsewhere do come from non parents) . They are real and peculiar to our family. So read with caution.

If for any reasons , such tips do work in your household, do feel free to deploy them. They are not copyright and should not be. After all parenting is never a standard module in any academic world ( and maybe it should be ), but one build upon experiences of self and many others. There are no right or wrong methods, just what works for each individual families.

And as parents, 99% would take whatever it works , though 98% would always claim everyone should follow 'textbook' advice. (We are sometimes guilty of that!)

What is sibling rivalry?
Below we delve into the solutions, we have to first identity the issue. What exactly is sibling rivalry?
Sibling Rivalry does not merely equate to fights between siblings or in our case a pair of brothers. Rather it is a type of competitive relationship between siblings that often resulted in fights and animosity between each other. If you had a brood of brothers and sisters and had not experienced sibling rivalry, you are truely blessed to enjoy such divine bliss. However if you are have experienced sibling rivalry in your children like the majority of parents, welcome to our world.

I am your mirror bro
Why the fight bro?
It is said that sibling rivalry is more apparent in the same gender and when the children are close in age. Although the Wacky brothers are 3 years apart, sibling rivalry does exist. It is more apparent  over the past one year especially when Little Lou began to find his voice and his identity.
Upon further research, it is said that sibling rivalry usually resulted from the siblings desires to gain the parent's attention and approval. However I do observe the motivation differs from one brother to the other, when it comes to the intent behind the fight.

For Big C, gaining our attention is one of his main intention to initiate a fight. Usually he would like to assert his stature as the first born and would 'remind' his brother of such. Sublimely he also wanted more attention to be given to him, by us acknowledging his position in the family. I do admit the younger one does get a bigger share of attention when he was a baby, however that was mostly attributed to his age and needs. Now that he is more independent, such scenarios are rarer. Nevertheless it is still one of the biggest  motivation for  Big C to get into a fight.

Occasionally Big C would push the buttons of Little Lou by baiting him to a fight. A example would be the use a toy to tempt the little one and thereafter proceed to snatch it away from him, thus creating a fight. Little Lou would then be seen as the aggressor and therefore gets the blame. Again I suspect Big C is using this to make us pay attention to him and at the same time get his brother into 'trouble' for being naughty, as opposed to him being good.

As for Little Lou, his motivation for a fight ironically is from love. Most of the fights would occur simply because he wanted to emulate his brother or when he wanted his brother to be his play companion . It was apparent when he wanted the exact identical toy with the brother... right down to the same colour ( I.e. his badminton racket must be the same colour as his brother).

Apparently this behaviour had influenced Big C and now HE wanted the same toys whenever his brother starts playing on his own. It shudders me to imagine them fighting over the same woman just because the other one likes a particular girl in the future!

Given the difference, it does not imply that one has a more severe problem than the other. It simply meant the perception of 'self space' and attention needs to be attended to differently. Even if they are brothers, they are dealt with  as individuals according to the circumstances.

Great minds think alike
It is not always about the fight
To most parents, the fighting between young kids are particularly frown upon. In this household, we view the fighting as secondary and may allow it to continue. In case, you are on the verge to scream 'bloody murder' on our face, rest assured we are not sadist nor are have we decided to breed a pair of boxers ( no matter how well some are **40 million + ** paid for a fight)

Rather, at times non intervention is best, especially for minor skirmishes. The more you intervene, the more the pair of brothers would continue this circus as they are assured of an audience. However we do keep a hawk eyes on the boys, we do not want skirmish to turn out to be full fledge wars. In addition, we do not wish any of the boys to turn this into sibling abuse which is detrimental in any sibling relationships in the future.

Brother love
The PAID solutions
That brings us to the solutions we have. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Most of the time it needs to be improvised. We practice the Prevent, Avoid, Ignore, and Discipline (PAID) method.
PAID, unlike its namesake, is free to use. Do adopt it to the right circumstances.

If we know what are the triggers to fight, we would reduce it. For example, we would buy the exact same toys so they will not fight over the same thing while playing. In addition, we would try to give each child individual attention such as one to one playtime and activity so each would feel that they are special.

The main thing we would avoid is favouritism. In any settling of disputes, it may not be wise to use one as the role model or just reprimand one and not the other. Instead, any judgment should be place on both especially when both had laid hands on each other. It does not matter who started the fight, as long as the other one contributed to it, both will get their just desserts. It is only in clear cut case where one is undeniably at fault, that he would be the only one to get the brunt of the lecture. In most cases this is a rare occurrence.

As mentioned earlier, not all fights need to be acknowledged. Warnings may be given and evasive actions from the Daddy would usually stop the fights or any thoughts of it.
I dislike using the cane on my children, but in the rare event if I do, I made it a point that both will get the same treatment aka a 'soft' smack on the backside. Normally the sight of the stick would quieten things down as they would often remember the last sting on the backside from another episode.

The rule of the thumb is that both will be discipline accordingly. Should there be a need to discipline only one, he would be put aside away from the sight of the brother to prevent the notion of favouritism.

We fight, we kiss, we make up
Do you believe in tough love?
The funny thing about Sibling Rivalry is that it is usually the result of love. It happened when one is searching for love or ironically the result of loving the other too much. The solution to this is the same for the problem...Love. 

As fluffy as it may sound, showing love and care for the child as an individual is as important as showing love to the child as part of the family. There should be time spend alone with each individual child to make them feel that they are special in your eyes. Everyone of us needs varying degree of love. It is a matter of tuning one's attention to provide adequate if not more love than a child could phantom. Trust me, it never hurts to love your own child. However do note as in everything in life, it is all about moderation. Excessive love or blind love may lead to pampering and that may breed another unwanted trait in a child.

So start today by showing your love and attention to the individual child. You may be surprised that it may actually work much better than any solutions advocated.

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