Any parent of more than one kid knows that siblings have a love hate relationship, and often it’s more hate than love.
I know I gave my kids a sibling so they would have someone to love and play with, but there’s days when they clearly didn’t get that memo.
My kids fight. Often. Loudly. Randomly. And over the most seemingly insignificant things. And yes I know it’s normal and that all kids fight. But it doesn’t make it any easier to live with, let alone parent.
I’ve come to realise that I have to be okay with the fact that my kids fight. I can’t control it and I can’t stop it because it’s not my fight, it’s theirs. They are learning to be humans living with other humans and that is hard work. And they are learning that other people are different to them and that *gasp* it’s not always about them and what they want.
Certainly when they were littler I intervened. When one was much bigger than the other, or was going through a biting/hitting/kicking stage. But now that they are big kids able to communicate with words not fists I have learnt to let them be.
But while I can’t control that they fight, I can teach them how to fight – fairly and respectfully.
So there’s a few ground rules when the kids disagree in my house.
No mean words. No hurting. Both sides get to have their say. And it’s okay to walk away.
I don’t intervene any more. I used to. But I started feeling like a referee at an angry soccer game where someone was always calling foul. I realised that because I was sorting things out for them, my kids weren’t learning to sort things out for themselves.
My only involvement now is to ask if they need separate spaces. It’s a question, not a command. When I hear things getting out of hand or going nowhere, I ask if they need some time apart to simmer down and let things settle. It’s not time out and they’re not in trouble. They can go where they want and do what they want. But at some stage they need to get back together and sort things out once everyone is calm and has had time to consider the other person’s point of view. Sometimes they agree and retreat to their separate corners. Sometimes they don’t, they say that they’re okay and agree to calm down and hash things out.
And that’s when I have a proud mum moment. Yes my kids fight. But they know how to fight fair, to ask for what they want but to hear what the other person needs too. And that surely is all I can ask for.