The fighting between my girls is what brought me to my knees as a parent. The pinching, pushing and hitting left me feeling devastated. Some days the sweetness between them was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed, and on other days, I would go to bed crying. It took me quite some time to understand that the relationship between my girls was interdependent on the closeness I shared with each of my children individually; and as I came to understand this important nuance of familial relations, it made perfect sense. Looking at the (for many years) fractured relationship I shared with my sister, it was clear our lack of connection with our parents greatly influenced the way we interacted with one another. There was never enough attention to go around so the strain on the parental relationship gave way to increased conflict between my sister and me. I couldn’t verbalize it as a child or adolescent, but it seems so clear to me now. What was more devastating was the way in which I was beginning to replicate the same environment in my own home.
Can we blame any and all sibling rivalry on parents lack of connection with their kids? No, at times siblings will squabble. This is completely normal. Kids are highly affected by broken connections outside of the home…at school and with friends. Those fractures can leave a child feeling anxious and hurt which influences the way they relate to their siblings. However, when the fighting is constant, there are many things we can do to help squelch the arguments. Here are some suggestions:
1. Spend time one on one with each child to create greater connection.
2. Play with your kids both separately and together.
3. Make sure you intervene immediately when your kids are fighting. Do not let them figure it out on their own.
4. Do not lay blame, shame and assign fault.
5. Teach your kids how to talk to one another using kind words in the moment.
Over time my girls have forged a much closer bond thanks to the time I’ve spent nurturing the connection I share with each of them individually. When my girls feel connected to me and filled up with love and affection they can be flexible and loving with one another.
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