What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

Before you had kids, you knew that siblings fought… but when they compete over every single thing…

…When they argue about who got the bigger piece of the cookie

…When one your son wants something your daughter has, even though he hadn’t looked at that thing for MONTHS before his sister picked it up

…When they are constantly trying to “one up” each other

But even when you try to make everything equal so they don’t compete… they still find a way to argue. You feel stuck.

 

 

What This Situation Is Like for Kids

 

Every human being needs to know they matter. And kids, who still think in a concrete way, need to believe that things are “fair.” 

….So when a child sees their sibling getting a bigger piece of cookie, it makes them feel like they don’t matter as much.

… And when their sibling is having fun playing with something, they want to make sure they get a chance to have fun.

…And when think their sibling gets to spend more time with a parent than they did, they are hurt.

So they stand up for themselves… and get in trouble for “fighting”… again.

 

 

How It Usually Goes  

When Siblings Compete All the Time

 

Scenario:  Tonya and her brother Preston are at Target with their mom. Their mom is holding her phone but realizes she needs to pick up a big bag of dog food. She asks Tonya to hold her phone. Preston complains, and the two start fighting.

 

Using Calm, Connect, Correct

She stays calm and instead of arguing with the kids. She is able to do so by focusing on something that is in her control — not talking while they are talking.

She also connects with each child without taking sides. To reduce competition, she acknowledges each child’s perspective and shows them that they will each get what they need. She also recognizes that when the children are engaged, they will fight less.

Then she corrects behavior by coming up with a solution based on the fact that each child needs to be acknowledged… and that each child needs something to do that meets their own needs.

 

Preston: You always ask her to do everything!

Tonya: She does not!

Mom: Preston, come on, it’s just a phone.

Preston: No it’s not. You always ask her to help you. And she got to hold your phone last time.

Tonya: I’m not even playing with the phone.

Preston: Then let me hold it.

Tonya: NO!

Mom: Stop arguing, you two!

Tonya: He started it!

Preston: I just want to hold the phone.

Mom: Tonya, just give it to him.

Tonya: Why should I? You asked me to hold it!

Preston: MOM! She needs to give it to me!

Mom: Stop FIGHTING!

Tonya: I’m not fighting.

Preston: I just want the phone!

Mom: If you don’t stop it, we’re leaving right now.

The kids ignore her and keep fighting.

How It Could Go  

When Siblings Compete All the Time

 

Scenario:  Tonya and her brother Preston are at Target with their mom. Their mom is holding her phone but realizes she needs to pick up a big bag of dog food. She asks Tonya to hold her phone. Preston complains, and the two start fighting.

 

Preston: You always ask her to do everything!

Tonya: She does not!

Mom (stops walking, which forces the kids to stop walking). Wow, Pres, That upset you that I gave Tonya the phone.

Preston: Yes! You always give her everything.

Tonya: She doesn’t.

Mom (stops talking while the kids are arguing. She notices they finally quiet down.) You want to hold the phone, Preston. And so do you, Tonya.

Preston: YES.

Tonya: But I have it!

Mom (pauses again. Once they stop talking): OK, there’s one phone and two of you. So we need to find a solution. Preston, it looks like you’re looking for something to do.

Preston: Yeah, I want the phone.

Tonya: He always wants what I have!

Mom (puts her arm on Tonya to recognize that she hears her. Then she turns to Preston.) I know you want the phone. The phone’s not available right now…. Hey wait! I bet you can’t find ALL of the letters of the alphabet on the cans on the shelf.. IN ORDER!

Tonya: I want to do that!

Mom: You can, Tonya. Everyone will get what they need. What search do you want to do?

Tonya: I want to look for colors instead of letters.

Mom: Go for it.

Tonya and Preston each start searching. 

 

…And if the Kids STILL Don’t Stop Competing

 

What Makes This In-the-Moment Strategy Possible

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, remember:

 

Depositing into CALM

Tonya and Preston’s mom will not be able to stay calm if

a.) her biological or emotional needs are low (if she’s tired or worried about what other people will think if her kids are fighting in the store

b.) If her expectations are not realistic — if she thinks that the kids will not bicker when they are in the store with nothing to do.

When she makes sure her own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Tonya and Preston’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

Tonya and Preston’s mom will only be able to connect if

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

b.) she understands those reasons (in this case, kids get bored when they are in a store AND naturally defend their need for significance…so they will compete if one child gets something to deal with the boredom and the other does not)

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

Tonya and Preston’s mom will only be able to use tools to effectively correct if:

a.) She has demonstrated consistently in the past that she means what she says; for example, when she stops talking, she will wait until the kids stop arguing before she begins again.

b.) She has made enough deposits into the relationship with each of her children that trying to resolve this issues will not put them deeper into Yuck because they each think she likes the other child better.

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into the kids’ emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to connect more effectively.  

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