Jealousy. A seething hatred that bursts out in white-hot anger. Ah, the joys of brothers and sisters. All right, sure. Not every family was like that, but I know my sister and I hated each other during our teen years. Fortunately, time seems to have mellowed us out and now I don’t know what I would do without my wonderful sister, her fantastic husband and my brilliant niece and nephew. But I still remember the hate.
At Charlotte Parent magazine, I read an article on sibling rivalry. Basically, I thought the article boiled down to “Dudes and dudettes get angry if they perceive a lack of fairness with a sibling.” I think now I’ll get into the actual issues.
1. If one sibling receives a gift and the other does not.
2. If parents tend to take one sibling’s side over another during conflict.
3. If parents spend more time with one sibling than another.
4. If one sibling gets more attention than another due to a talent or skill.
The study has both good news and bad news for parents. The good news is that kids tend to watch their parents and see what they say and do. The bad news is that kids tend to watch their parents and see what they say and do. In other words, the kids study us, they watch what we do and not just what we say. That’s a heavy burden. We can’t just talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk.
I’m not exactly sure what the solution really is: if I were, I’d already be out on a book tour raking in the dough. Not that I don’t love you people, but still. . . Anyway, I think all we can really do is make sure the little dudes and dudettes in our lives see how much they are loved and cared for and then try and teach them that fairness comes in a lot of different flavors.
I’ll take peanut butter and chocolate as my flavor.
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I was reading in Charlotte Parent about a new study by some researchers at North Carolina State University. Oddly enough, the study found that siblings feel rivalry with each other. Imagine that. All right, I’m being facetious, but only a little. In the study, fifth- and sixth-grade students were asked what made them jealous of their sibling. While there were four main issues that seemed to cause jealousy, I think it can all boil down to fairness, or a lack thereof.
Young-ish dudes and dudettes are obsessed with fairness. That is, they only want to do the least they can do, while also getting the most they can of anything. Okay, sure, so do we all. However, at those young ages kids have a more difficult time overcoming their desires in those areas. Also, I think kids have a harder time understanding that fair does not mean equal.
For instance, if you’ve got a 15-year-old and you ask her to carry a large suitcase on a trip, it might be fair to ask your eight-year-old to carry a much smaller bag. However, your older dudette sure wouldn’t see it that way. She has the heavier suitcase so it’s not fair that the younger dude has a lighter one that is, to him, an equivalent effort.
So now that I’ve been bloviating about that, let me assure you my sister really was annoying. And got treated much better by our parents. I was, of course, perfect.
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Well, to rip off Eneimem; somtetimes I “Just Lose It.” I think that we all lose it sometimes. And the trigger is different for all types of parents.
My 6-year-old has figured out how to really get under my skin. She basically refuses to do what we tell her to do. She has the technique down pat. If you say brush you teeth, she says; “No! I don’t want to!” and drops to the ground and lays there and sort of cries. Tell her to go to bed: “No! I don’t want to!” and drops to the ground and lays there. Tell her to help feed the dogs… You got it.
It is very frustrating because she is not hurting someone, or being generally mean, she is just exerting her new-found defiance. It totally sucks and makes me loose it.
Now, we don’t hit or spank, but I am not afraid to grab her up and carry her to bed, or the bathroom or brush her teeth for her. So last night she started in and after the 10th “No! I don’t want to!” I grabbed her up and brushed her teeth. This worked great till she clamped down on the toothbrush.
Then, my oldest son came in and asked her if she wanted him to brush her teeth. She said “uh huh” nodded and all was right in the world.
Dude! looks like I got a new partner in crime here in my oldest. Got to remember that next time something goes sideways.
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