I had a good talk with the kids this week about fighting and sharing. (For the record, I am still getting used to my role as mediator in family fights.)
When it comes to sibling fights, first there is usually the question of ownership. Then there is the question of who got the toy first. Then, as Vera puts it, “but he always get his way. I never get mine” — the issue of fairness.
I looked at Vera when she spoke those words, and it was a picture of a disgruntled little girl who’s been trying to be “good” and “the big sister,” but who inadvertently felt trampled upon at the end of the day. Her need to feel loved and heard had not been met. So it’s no wonder that she couldn’t feel the joy of relinquishing her rights in order to create peace in the home.
If we dig deeper, beyond the “who owns it”, beyond the “who came first”, the heart of the matter is actually the intangible stuff, stuff such as love, selflessness and patience.
These virtues are at stake here.
Why don’t I want to share MY toy? Because I want it and I want it now. I come first. Me. Me. Me.
Why can’t I wait to take my turn? Because I want my way. NOW.
I realise it’s a lot harder to focus on the intangible things, and so easy to play judge and decide who’s right because “he’s younger, he doesn’t know” or “you’re the big sister so you should give in.” But as in all family squabbles, it’s important not to take sides. The truth is it takes two hands to clap, and two selfish hearts to fight.
I also realise that little brother needs to learn that not everything bends his way just because he’s small (and loud). And he needs to learn how to wait.
Patience – the art of waiting and coping with your emotions so that you don’t blow up.
Selflessness – the art of moving over so that you give some room in your heart for others.
Things that even us adults struggle with, so what more young children?
We held a family discussion and drew some boundaries on how to share, and how to wait for your turn.
This is helpful as it sets out some boundaries for the kids to follow, some tips on what is helpful to say, and what’s not. For instance, ignoring the person’a request for the toy isn’t helpful. Saying “go away” or “I came first” isn’t helpful. “Can you give me 5 minutes? I would like to finish this song.” works better.
Of course, this will need some repeating, and heaps and heaps of practice in the months and years to come.
But perhaps more importantly (as a good friend reminded me one morning) is help them see the why.
Why should we bother with sharing? Why is it important not to fight? Why work hard at keeping the peace?
Sharing means less tears.
Sharing means more joy all around.
Sharing means we love more, hurt less.
Sharing means a peaceful home.
It also means that we are becoming the boy / girl that God wants us to be. And this is probably the most important reason of all.
Once they are able to see that we’re on their side, and that we’re working towards the same goal, it will help to motivate them to keep trying.
How do you manage sibling rivalry at home? Any tips to share?