For a couple mornings in a my child (almost 3) would JUMP on his sister (barely 1)… he would swat her with his hand… sometimes gently, sometimes enough to tip her over. Thinking I'm setting this limit to END the behavior, I started with my go-to method of using the SAFE PLACE. Your body is not safe, your choices tell me you need a safe space to calm down. I would repeat again and again, morning after morning… thinking he will learn that it's not ok soon.
But he didn't. He didn't at all… because while my response may have been logical and focused on teaching. I didn't take the time to TEACH THE MISSING SKILLS. I was expecting the consequence to teach the missing skills, when all it was teaching was you are wrong.
So for two mornings in a row, I was telling my child, you're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong. Calm down, calm, calm, calm… and yeah, I was helping him calm down… BUT I didn't get to the root of the original behavior.
WHY THE HECK WAS HE PUSHING AND PLAYING ROUGH WITH HIS SISTER?
As a preschool teacher, I've had my fair share of conflict. I've taught missing skills of entering play, trading, taking turns, communicating needs… but with this "out of the blue behavior" the function seemed different. But I know from my studies and experiences, there is ALWAYS a reason. Sometimes the patterns are harder to read.
That's when I started studying more about sibling rivalry.
He didn’t just need emotional regulation skills, nope, the function of his behavior was different this time… more complex. Nothing that simple simple changes in my responses and the new skills can’t fix.
We work on the missing skills. We put into place prevention strategies and times to teach new skills. Things are going much better.
Unfortunately, the way we respond to sibling conflict…
…can create resentment with us or with their brother or sister
…can enable them to become tattle-tellers instead of problem solvers
…can create hype around possessions
…can affect our relationships with your kids
…can communicate "you're wrong" or "I don't trust you"
So I started from square one.
I listed all potential functions.
I listed tons of prevention strategies.
I thought carefully about the missing skills & how to teach them.
And then, lastly, I organized responses (including the amazing safe place)
And then, upon success in reframing the way I deal with sibling conflict... I created a course. It's something I strive to use EVERY day in parenting my children, but also in conflict with cousins or friends. Using the framework for behavior I love, and know, and research and rave about.
Included in this course:
Common sibling functions
Determine Function tracking + workbook
Focus on Positive
Common triggers & ways to prevent
Identify missing skills
When to teach
Make your own charts
Problem Solving Approach
If they don’t comply
Lauren Pace, MS | Positive Parent Coach | Challenging Behavior & the Explosive Child | Early Childhood Specialist in Logan, UT