Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Before Bill and I had kids, we always knew we wanted them to be relatively close in age, so that they would hopefully be close, love each other, be friends and all of that sappy stuff. Bill has an older sister that is just about 18 months older than him and they are very close. I am just a little less than 3 years younger than my brother and we are close now, but weren't always that way growing up. We had the pretty typical older brother/younger sister relationship. I was a pest and he teased me to no end.

Kiki and Boo are only 2 years apart. 8 days shy of two years apart to be exact. Boo practically worships the ground Kiki walks on and wants to do everything she does, have everything she does, and be just like her if she has it her way. Kiki loves her sister dearly, but loves more than anything to be in charge of everything Boo does, right down to telling her how to pretend whatever it is they are pretending. When Boo was little, say 1 or 2 years old, this was perfectly acceptable to her. She listened to everything Kiki told her to do, and happily followed her lead. As she's grown though, that has changed quite a bit. While she loves Kiki and wants to be like her, she does not enjoy being bossed around or told what to do. Needless to say this has caused me to pull all of my hair out quite a bit of turmoil in our household.

Boo is in afternoon Kindergarten and hates it when Kiki is gone in the mornings. She can't wait until they both get home from school so she has someone to play with. Yet the minute they walk in the door they start arguing. They disagree on what to play, who gets to pick what they play, what to watch on TV, who gets to pet Laci first, who gets what for snack; you name it, they argue about it. My patience goes out the window on those days, as I am at my wit's end on how to handle it. Everyone has a different approach, whether it be to separate them, let them work it out, punish them, etc. I've pretty much tried them all and nothing seems to work.

When I let them "work it out" it usually gets physical and Kiki someone ends up getting hit, kicked, punched, or bitten. When I separate them, they actually seem quite happy to be separated (who could blame them) and then start arguing the minute they are reunited.

I am torn as on how to handle this sibling rivalry. I know a certain amount of it is healthy and will teach them how to handle all types of situations and get along well with others. Yet, I also know that too much of a certain type of situation can be damaging to a child or relationship and I don't know where to draw the line. Kiki is bossy, which isn't necessarily a bad quality, as long as the "bossing" is done in a positive way. Boo is great at standing up for herself, yet she doesn't always use the best approach and can get physical with her sister. One thing they both know won't be tolerated, besides physically hurting each other, is mean-spirited teasing or putting each other down. I've told them hateful or mean words are just as harmful to a person as hitting and will result in the same consequences or punishment.

The irony in all of this, is that they are extremely close. They have many days where they hardly argue at all and do such nice, sweet things for each other. If one of them is sick or hurt, the other is quick to do what she can to help the other one feel better. They have many days where they laugh together and they have also been known to defend each other in certain situations.

As I write this, they are happily playing in the next room, singing along to High School Musical 2 soundtrack for about the millionth time. I am listening to them being kind and taking turns. Yet I know it will be short-lived. One of them will say or do something the other doesn't agree with and a war will start. So I am enjoying the peace while I can, because I know it won't last.


Anonymous said...

Wow, oh wow can I relate!
Glad to see I'm not the only one. Sheesh. :-) Maybe they'll outgrow it soon? We can hope right?

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful posting, Kristi...

Love you, Steph