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Why can't you be like your Brother?


The next few blog posts will be dedicated to the book Siblings without Rivarly.  There is a big chunk of the book talking about how we compare our kids and how bad it is. And how it contributes to their fighting. Like ALOT. 

Again, the cartoons in the book showing situations where the mom and dad compare siblings and their resulting thoughts are very helpful and all you really need to read. 

When I read this chapter at first, I thought I don't compare my kids. They are too young. They are in fact only 3 and 16 months. What's to compare? Then I took a step back and thought at least I'll take a day and pay attention to what I'm doing and what I'm saying to see if I actually do compare them. 

Well guess what? I do compare them. I talk to other adults IN FRONT of them about how they are so different. How when my son was a baby he couldn't walk until he was 16 months and my daughter walked at 11 months. And how my son started talking so early and all my daughter knows how to do is grunt. These are true statements. However, my kids also heard every single word of them. I wonder how that made my son feel when he heard me talking about what a great walker and runner my daughter is? I wonder if that contributed to him wanting to push her down out of "nowhere"? 

I noticed I was saying things to my little guy like, you are such a good cuddler. I wish your sister would cuddle and not be constantly moving! According to the book the author would say he would then think "I'm better than my sister." 

Or things like, "Why is your sister such a hard baby? Why can't she just listen like you?" What kind of pressure does that put on my son? What if he thinks, "Mom doesn't like my sister when she is hard. I'd better not be hard or she won't like me."

I made an effort to stop comparing them. Anytime I made statements one way on another about my kids I said VERY LOUDLY to myself what I say about this child has ABSOLUTELY no relevance to the other one. Like my mom would say, "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?" 

The author says when you feel tempted to compare your children, the trick is to describe the situation instead. 

Here is a real life example from the rabbit hole: 

It was time to clean up the wooden train tracks which were strewn all down the hall. I had a red basket and the three of us set out to put the tracks in the basket. 

My 16 month old daughter began to enthusiastically put tracks in the basket, to my surprise. I was so excited she was participating! My excitement must have been apparent to my son who made a point to not lift a finger to put away any trains or tracks. 

In the past I would say things like, "You need to help clean these trains up! Look your BABY sister is doing it! Why can't you?" 

Instead describe the situation,"Hey look! I see there are a lot of train tracks on the floor. I would like you to  help clean them up please." 

This has nothing to do with his sister. He can choose to clean them up or not clean them up. There will be a consequence if he doesn't help, but it is all unrelated to his sister. 

Therefore at the end of this she didn't get hit on the head with a train track which missed the basket. According to the cartoon, the choice is up to him. To help or not. Feelings of resentment toward his sister are not put in the mix. Whew. That prevented a whole spiral of him hurting his sister, me yelling at him, putting him in time out, comforting a crying toddler and lecturing him. That saved a lot of energy and made for a better afternoon. 

So far this book has worked!


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