My friend came over with her daughter for a play date last week and it was a bit of a disaster. My daughters were fighting over toys, fighting over my attention, and when I attempted to separate them, the fought some more. What should have been a fun morning was full of ridiculous stress. If you follow me on instagram you might think they are little angels, but they have a feisty sibling rivalry that I’m really noticing over this summer vacation.
My friend ever-so-tactfully mentioned a parenting coach that she had consulted at some earlier stage in her mama journey. I took her number. I made an appointment to chat about this issue of my daughters’ and their sibling rivalry. And it was SO good. Our 45-minute session felt like months of therapy and being deeply understood by a wise friend.
Here are some of my takeaways:
- Both girls need alone time with me. Even if the younger one is “going with the flow” for now, it will backfire later. Don’t let the older one bully me into not taking alone time with the younger one.
- Incorporate lots of laughter. Spend time with no agenda, laughing a being silly with the girls. Have little pillow fights. But, be prepared that after this emotional release of laughter, tears may come. And …
- Tears are good. Tears are a release of toxins, much like sweat.
- At this age, all attention is good attention. (My girls are 2 and almost 4.) The coach reminded me that my daughters want attention in any form. Even if it’s attention because they’re driving me bonkers.
- Dropping off my daughter to classes does not count as quality alone time. Even if that feels to me like we’ve spent a bunch of time together, she will still be hungry for my attention.
- It’s never about the object they are fighting over, it’s about the emotion. (Well that’s good because sometimes they fight over the COLOR PURPLE, like who gets to own the color purple today. Not a purple crayon, not a purple marker, just who is in charge of the COLOR as a whole!)
This week I am trying a few things differently, including a morning walk with my younger daughter, no matter how much my older daughter protests.
I’m also reading the book LISTEN that she recommended. And listening to this podcast with Janet Lansbury on Coping with Your Child’s Possessiveness. (By the way, I have read Siblings without Rivalry. There were some good insights but nothing that’s really helping me navigate having the Terrible Twos and a Threenager in my house.)
I’m sure I haven’t found all the answers, but it felt very optimistic to be talking to someone about how to create peace, harmony and cohesion in our household. That is the goal, nothing less!
Wish me luck! And I’d love to hear – have you ever met with a parenting coach, or read a parenting book that helped you have a major breakthrough?