Friday, August 22, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

I just finished reading Siblings Without Rivalry and I thought it was fantastic. There were a few no-nos that I have done with the kids, without realizing that they were no-nos. Labeling, for instance. I understand that unflattering labels aren't good, but I didn't realize that even flattering labels can cause damage. After reading the book, it makes perfect sense why that would be the case, but I honestly never thought about that before. An recent example of what not to do: a few days ago, I called Natalie "the caretaker", because of her love of stuffed animals and dolls, and also her newest hobby of helping people with their daily routines (brushing hair, washing in the tub, toothbrushing). Calling her a caretaker boxes her into that role, which she may not relish when she's older, but she will feel that she has to live up to that label. The other effect is that Sammy will think that role has already been filled, so there's no reason for him to show any caretaking behaviors. I'm probably not explaining it very well, but the book really was an eye-opener. There was only a small section that was directed towards parents of teenagers, but the rest of the book applies to kids of any age (and probably the younger, the better, since it's easier to start off on the right foot than it is to try to repair a damaged relationship later).

I think the things that I'm doing are making a difference already, although we still have our moments. A perfect example is last night. Sammy was hyper with tiredness (why? why do kids get hyper when they're tired, when I can hardly drag my butt off the couch?) and went tearing through the living room, as fast as he could run. When he passed Natalie, without breaking stride, he reached an arm out and grabbed her hand. This, of course, threw her off balance and she did a (very graceful, I might add) backwards flip. I guess all that getting pummeled by her brother has taught her to fall without getting hurt, because she didn't make a peep as she got back up and continued down the hall as if nothing had happened.

Other than that one incident, yesterday was a much better day. Sammy was back to his usual, pleasant-to-be-around self. I still don't know what was going on with him Wednesday, but I do have to say that I am quite proud of myself that I managed to keep it all together and not lose my temper with him. I always thought patience was an inborn trait, of which I had none, but I'm finding it's actually a learned skill. And who is a better teacher of patience than a two-year-old? I guess I should be thanking him.


Carol Beth said...

Wow, the labels thing--that is great stuff! Makes me want to read the book--but until I get to it, at least I can put that into practice. I know there are talents or gifts I didn't realize I had growing up because my sister had them, and hers were so apparent I thought SHE was the one gifted in those areas. I grew up and realized, "Hey! I can do that too!" And I also see how labels could totally make a child feel they have to fill some sort of role. Like, me calling Ana a tomboy or saying she likes boyish toys--she might feel odd in a year if suddenly she wants a bunch of traditionally girly toys, and I just want her to feel comfortable in her own skin, even as she change. I will definitely keep the labeling thing in mind. Thanks for the "book report" and if there are other things from the book that you find are really helping you, please do share! :)

Carol Beth said...

"change" in the previous comment should be "changes". That's what I get for not proofreading before hitting the "Submit" button!