Sibling Rivalry Psychology – What Parents Need To Know

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Causes Of Sibling Rivalry & How To Handle Blow-Ups

Heidi Rogers here with your 3 Minute Parenting Playbook play of the day.

Today, I’m tackling one of my favorite tips from the sibling rivalry module of my parenting course, Total Parenting Transformation. And it’s a common one that parents will tell me was their favorite thing, or one of their favorite strategies that they learned. And it’s basically the concept of ‘refereeing’ versus ‘commentating’.

Often what we get hooked with when our kids are fighting, is we jump into referee mode where we go, ‘What did you do? What did you do? You’re right… you’re wrong’, whatever. We don’t want to do that as 1), it makes it really hard for us as parents, because it’s a lot of work. The other problem with that is that it sort of shows an imbalance of love for them.

So what the child thinks is ‘you love that child more than you love me’. And that’s not what we want when you’re because to them, it looks like you’re picking sides, you might be totally fair, but how it feels for them is that you’re picking sides and that you love one more than the other. And if you have one kid who’s a bit more challenging and a bit more tricky and kind of gets in trouble a bit more for them, it just compounds their feelings of ‘I’m not okay, I’m not enough, I’m not lovable’, because they’re often always the one that’s in trouble, right? And the referee often rules against them.

So what we want to do is instead be the commentator. So think about a commentator from whatever sport you love watching, think about their voice think about what they look like. That’s who you want to channel when your kids are fighting. Get out of your black and white striped, you know, referee, footlocker uniform, get out of that and get into a commentator. So if that’s a suit or a nice shirt.

Think about what a commentator wears ok? And what commentators do is they commentate on the situation. They say, ‘Oh, this is what you want. Oh, and this is what you want. Huh? What are we going to do about that? You guys both want different things? This is tricky, huh?’

It’s a lot more relaxing, it’s a lot less stressful when you don’t have to kind of tell you know who’s doing what wrong or whatever. When you get to just pull back and commentate.

Why? I want to teach you how to express what you want. And I want to do it in a non-attacking way. And we can communicate how we feel you guys, but we don’t need to call each other names or we don’t need to snatch toys or we don’t need to fight like that.

So, the mantra you kind of want to use is ‘they need my help to learn the right words. I’m not going to shout across the room. If I see them fighting, I’m going to go over to them. I’m going to take a lot of deep breaths for myself so that I don’t lose it and I stay calm. And I’m just going to acknowledge that there’s an issue. And I’m going to go … ohh, I hear loud voices. What’s going on? Okay, you wanted that and you wanted that? Hmm, I see. Mm hmm’.

And I basically just mirror back to them what they say to me, and I commentate on. Ah, that’s what you want. And that’s what you’re feeling. That’s what you want. That’s what you’re feeling. And I help them sort of problem solve together, rather than solving it for them.

‘So you don’t like it when she gets that? You feel like she’s leaving you out? Mm hmm. Yeah’. And so I’m supporting you to express how you feel and helping that rather than picking sides.

This was my 3-minute … almost under 3 minutes … parenting play of the day. I hope it was helpful. See you next time!

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