I Would Be Crying All Day Long
”If I cried every time you guys annoyed me I would be crying all day long,” yup, I said that to my kids yesterday.
These little people in my house have the tiniest threshold for annoyances, more so than any person I have ever met. It’s crazy, they can’t sit across from each other at the dining room table and chew breakfast cereal quiet enough, with their mouth closed, without staring at each other, and without completely wiggin’ out. Really, I pour the cereal and walk away. It’s like a little dance they do each morning, somehow they have to get perfectly annoyed with each other before they can part ways at school for the day.
I’m trying to teach them that their reactions won’t cut it in the real world. In the school cafeteria, or at a restaurant freaking out, slamming down spoons and storming off is just abnormal. I’m pretty sure they are aware of this social standard because, as far as I know, they can stare at their friends, while chewing loudly and displaying their 1/2 digested food without batting an eye. So what is it about siblings that brings out the worst in each other? Yeah, I dunno, really if you have an idea, email me I’d love to hear your take.
Sibling rivalry comes in many forms. Sometimes it looks like competition, sometimes it is fairness and a 1:1 mentality…if he gets two candies then I need two…but mine were smaller than his so can I get three? Or he got a cupcake at school for a classmate’s birthday, so can I have an ice cream to make things fair? My older brother and I had a crazy level of sibling rivalry when we were kids. He liked to punish me for everything. If I got to play ‘army’ with him and his friends I would be the one who was holding the (soda can) bomb when it “blew up.” If we played school (I don’t know why I begged him to play) he would give me an ‘F’ on my fake report card which would crush my dreams, haha. He was horrible to me and so I would do my best to always get him in trouble, and the cycle continued.
Kids are so obnoxious, they really are. They are dealing with big emotions and not much perspective. I know these days are tough. I am tapped out each night, my words, my strength, my patience is gone. I’m so grateful for the refill each morning. I know that my kids will grow to become best friends. My brother and I were amazing friends in high school, we finally made it through the sibling rivalry stage and came out the other side. The best advice is to coach them through the bickering, but also let them ride it out. Eventually, they will learn their own techniques. They will grow stronger in the things they can handle. They will also learn the art of ignoring. Perspective, however, is a beautiful thing that they need us, parents, to teach. Share with those crazy kids of yours that they have the opportunity to have a best friend and a playmate in their sibling. Love them, roll your eyes and check your pulse when they aren’t looking and keep coaching them through this.
One day they will laugh at all they ways they annoyed each other growing up. But in the meantime, here are some quick tips to help them through the rivalry: (Look, so easy…they all start with the letter ‘t’.)
1. Time- Give them a minute to calm down before any instructions that will follow. If they aren’t calm, talking tends to escalate the situation. Take a little step back for a bit until they are thinking straight and rationally.
2. Task- Give them a task that has to be completed together. Short of a knock-down-drag-out my kids have to complete this task before having free-time. Age appropriate chores work great! I usually send them somewhere strategic… like to the car or back yard (AKA out of my earshot.) They can come back inside when they have cleaned out the car completely (mostly their stuff, anyways) or when they finish sweeping the patio and picking up dog poo. Almost without fail they are building forts with the patio cushions or planning something fun to do together before they come back in. And don’t feel defeated if they return still annoyed with one another…you got a few minutes of peace and a clean car out of the deal.
3. Togetherness- Any time I tell my kids that they absolutely cannot play with each other for a certain amount of time, they seem to want nothing more than to play with each other. At first they are very pleased with this rule, but before time is up they are bored and desperate for their sibling’s attention.
Good luck to all the moms of multiples. This too shall pass.