So, how do you manage sibling rivalry? It’s something that we have to deal with on a regular basis, seeing that there are so many siblings and they are so close in age. I came across this tip on a few mom blogs a couple of years ago, and it has worked quite well for us. They suggested having a kid of the week. That child gets all the priviledges of the week, like going first (or last, if they prefer), being Mommy’s special helper, and sitting in the front of the bathtub, when sharing their bathtime (or maybe getting to take a bath alone). However, they also are the ones that get asked for favors and special help sometimes, too. In our family, the priviledge most desired is sitting in the front seat of the “mini” van. It only seats seven, so when it is full of a parent plus all the kids, someone has to sit in the front. This was a necessity before we got the “many” van, where we do not practice having a kid in the front seat because it isn’t necessary. Fortunately, our “mini” van has a feature that shuts the airbag off when a certain minimal weight is picked up in the seat (like a child). Before you report me, know that this is the only reason I will allow a child in the front seat. I took this kid of the week concept and had a little fun with it. I took the letters KOW and wrote them on a piece of construction paper. I then found a blackline (coloring sheet) online of a cow and colored and cut it out. I took the pictures of the three girls’ faces and cut them out, used velcro dots, and each week, we move the face onto the cow to remind us whose turn it is for the week. Because of the front seat issue, you have to be five to be on the kow rotation in our house, and S4 even knows that when he turns five, he gets a chance to be the KOW! This method greatly reduces our sibling rivalry issues.
In dealing with those issues, which we do in other areas now that the girls are older, I came across this idea. We haven’t tried it yet, but it’s definitely in the toolbox. When your child offends their sibling, saying or doing something hurtful or mean, send them to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Do this a few times until they seem to catch on to the connection between their offense and the nail. Then tell them to go pull the nails out. Discuss with them that although the nails are gone, the holes from the nails are still there and cannot be taken away. This will help to illustrate the affects of their unkind words or actions on others, especially their siblings. Of course, this wouldn’t work with my boys at this point because they are so young, but I think it’s something the girls would understand pretty quickly. I think this idea was suggested by Kevin Lehman in one of his kid-raising books.
There are other tools and strategies, but that is the way we are managing it right now!