One of the big things I want as a parent in this house is peace. And harmony. I want that too. Unfortunately, I gave birth to 4 humans who are….human. They don’t always get along.
Interestingly, the boys play together much better than I did with my siblings growing up. The younger ones can definitely be annoying on occasion, but they really don’t do a lot in terms of actual terrorism around here.
For the most part, they absolutely adore the older boys. Conflict usually arises when the 6 year olds can’t figure out how to act like 10 year olds and the older boys get impatient with them. The Mercenary in particular is a great micro-manager, and it’s gotten to the point where he opens his mouth and everyone’s hackles go up.
All that to say that this morning started as many do: with an argument at the table.
I’ve tried staying out of these issues as they build, but so far that has failed. They keep fighting until someone gets hurt. And the Captain in particular holds grudges, which can mean all-day sagas.
Today I lost my patience when things got overheated and declared that breakfast was over and sent them away. If they can’t get along nicely at the table, then off they go. I followed The Mercenary downstairs and tried to explain (again) that the younger boys aren’t trying to be annoying. They just want love and respect and validation, but they keep getting into power struggles by mistake.
After a lot of discussion, I gave him 3 steps to follow.
- The Catchphrase: “Dude, that’s not cool” was what I suggested. The key is to deliver it calmly and without emotion if little brother makes a mistake.
- The Wait: After delivering the catchphrase, look away for 2 full minutes, giving the little guy time to think of a new way to act.
- Affirmation: Give little brother positive comments when he’s doing something you like or when he’s obviously trying to impress, even if it’s not as cool as something an older child would do.
It’s going to take time, but The Mercenary in particular has proven in the last several months that he is capable of improving and that he is actually listening to me. Today he participated in the conversation, so we’ll see what happens.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who suffer from sibling rivalry.