When One Sibling Always Gives In To the Other

 

What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

While having one sibling who always appeases the other can mean less fighting, it can be so heartbreaking to see one child always giving in to their brother or sister.

You worry about whether that child will ever learn to stand up for themselves, or whether they’ll always be giving into others.

And you might also worry that their brother or sister might start to feel entitled, or act like a bully…or be in for a big surprise when other children aren’t so accommodating!

You don’t want to create more friction between the siblings, but you also want to make sure all of your children are getting what they need. 

 

What This Situation Is Like for Kids

 

Sometimes children dislike big emotions (as much as we do!).

They’ve seen their brother or sister’s meltdowns in the past… and they don’t like them.

They aren’t sure how to make sure their brother or sister doesn’t get upset, so they do the only thing they know how. They sacrifice themselves.

Sometimes for them, it feels better to have peace than to have their way. And since everyone is happy that the fighting ended, no one reminds them that there is another way. [/expand]

 

How It Usually Goes  

When One Sibling Gives In To the Other

 

Scenario:

Sandra is playing with her new building set that she got for her birthday. Her brother Liam sees the set and says, “I want to play.”

 

Sandra: Liam! I was playing.

Liam: I know. I want to play too.

Sandra (clearly not happy): Fine.

Mom (worrying that Sandra is giving in again and that Liam is being a bully): Liam! Sandra was playing with that!

Sandra: It’s OK, Mom.

Liam: Yeah Mom, she said it’s OK.

Mom: No Liam! You let Sandra play.

Liam: MOM! Sandra said I could!!

Sandra (getting upset that both her mom and brother are getting angry): I don’t want to play anymore! (She runs away.)

 

What It Could Look Like

When One Sibling Gives Into the Other

 

Scenario:

Sandra is playing with her new building set that she got for her birthday. Her brother Liam sees the set and says, “I want to play.”

 

Sandra: Liam! I was playing.

Liam: I know. I want to play too.

Sandra (clearly not happy): Fine.

 

CALM

Liam and Sandra’s mom is frustrated that Sandra has given in to her brother again.

She also knows that if she gets upset with Sandra for giving in, Sandra will only get more upset and she won’t do anything differently in the future. She reminders herself to focus on respecting Sandra’s perspective rather than worrying about the future, and she is able to remain calm.

 

Mom That is a cool building set, you guys. Sandra, I know you were having fun playing with it. And Liam, I can tell you want to play too.

Liam: Yeah.

Mom: Sandra, do you want to play too? 

Sandra: It’s OK, Mom. Liam can play with it.

Liam: Yeah Mom, she said it’s OK.

Mom: You know what? Your feelings matter, Liam, and I’m glad you’re getting to play. And Sandra’s feelings matter too.

Liam: But I want to play alone!

Mom: I can hear that that would work well for you, Liam. Sandra, does that work for you? Remember that your feelings matter too.

 

CONNECT

Liam and Sandra’s mom knows that it would be easier to “take sides,” but that ultimately it is more effective to connect with each of her children. Rather than judging who was right and who was wrong, she reminds them that they each have a perspective. In this way, she is reducing the Yuck and beginning to teach conflict resolution.

 

Sandra: No. I want to play too.

Mom: Can you tell Liam that? You can say, “Liam, Let’s play together.”

Sandra: Liam, let’s play together.

Liam: Fine… Can I at least build the base? 

Sandra: Yes, if I can build the sides and doors.

Liam: OK.

CORRECT

Sandra’s mom realizes that she isn’t born with the tools (or the temperament!) to stand up for herself naturally. Once she has connected with Sandra so that she will be open to a new perspective, she helps her choose words that help her express what she wants.   

 

 

 

How to Make In-the-Moment Parenting Work

The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If one child always gives in to the other, consider:

 

Depositing into CALM

Sandra’s mom will not be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low (if she is tired or worried about the relationship between her children)

b.) she has the expectation that Sandra should always know what she wants and how to ask for it

When she makes sure her own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Sandra’s mom is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Sandra’s mom will be able to connect if

a.) she respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) she understands those reasons (in this case, that Sandra doesn’t know exactly how to stand up for herself)

When she becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, she will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Sandra’s mom will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) She has demonstrated consistently in the past that she expects Sandra to ask for what she needs

b.) She has made enough deposits into Sandra’s emotional needs that encouraging her to be assertive doesn’t make Sandra shut down more

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Sandra’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct Sandra’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.