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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Sibling Arguments

My wonderful friend and mother-in-law reads lots of both fiction and non-fiction books. When she reads a good parenting or marriage self-help book, she'll usually send it my way. And then, I read a chapter or two. Although, I like to read, these types of books are not my cup of tea. The tip I'm about to share comes from an idea that I got from reading a chapter from one of those books. My friend, Esther, laughs at me because I'll take an idea from a book, but don't read the whole chapter to fully understand what the author meant by the idea. But hey, I tend to parent by instinct based on the values that I feel are important to pass on to my kids. This particular tip is probably one of the things I am most proud of as a parent. So here it is...

If someone has hurt you, I have a high value for going directly to that person and working it out. If I believe I've hurt someone else, I have a high value for going to that person and resolving the situation. But what happens when you have siblings? When D'arcy hits Julian, or Julian bites D'arcy? What will they automatically do? That's right, they come tell Mommy.


Here's what I don't do. I don't ask what happened. I don't try to understand the situation, who was right, who was wrong, who took what. I don't typically punish the culprit. (Keep in mind, I haven't had any perpetual biters or hitters. If it was a huge issue for one child, I might do more intervening.)

What I do is tell whoever is hurt to go talk to the person who hurt them. This is an example
D'arcy: "Julian hit me."
Mommy: "Then go tell him that he hurt you."
D'arcy: "Julian you hurt me when you hit me."
At this point, Julian might need some coaching to listen to his sister.
Julian: "I'm sorry D'arcy. Are you ok?" (Hug)
D'arcy: "I forgive you, but no, I'm not ok." (More hugs and comfort)

Another example:
Julian is on the floor screaming from something or another.
Instead of figuring out what happened, I tell D'arcy (who is obviously the culprit), to go to him, comfort him, and figure out what's wrong.
D'arcy: (kneeling down in front of him) "What's wrong?"
Julian: "YOU KNOCKED ME DOWN ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
D'arcy: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. I bet that hurt." (D'arcy waits until Julian is ready to uncross his arms and receive a hug. Forgiveness takes a minute sometimes. D'arcy kicked him in between his legs one time and forgiveness took about five minutes :P.)

So when it comes to fights between siblings, I'm not the mediator. The only involvement I have is to coach them on how to listen and give comfort to one another. And although they still come to me to crying a lot, they have also been able to resolve a lot of their issues on their own. Hopefully this will become a habit in their relationship as siblings, and even with their friends and future spouse.


  1. What a different world we would live in if we had all learned this as kids!!! My big thing was an I am sorry that you were hurt--even if that hurt was caused by accident.

  2. I like this! Larry said he often had his kids, before Lesley and I, sit on the couch and hold hands. :)

  3. Wow. Wow.

    I mean, I knew you were good and all,

  4. Honestly, this is brilliant! I might have to give this a try as my kids get older. M is 2 1/2 and E is 1. I love new parenting advice though because I know that what works for one season may not always work for the next.

  5. I love this tip. It's perfect! I hope I remember it by the time Zeke is that age.