Do you ever feel like being a parent is going to get the best of you? There are things that come up with the girls that sometimes I just feel at a loss about. I deal with it, but I don’t feel like I deal with it well. It just frustrates the heck out of me and I have no idea how to make it stop. Recently it’s been sister squabbles. I feel like I am telling them to stop whining, complaining, hitting, pinching, pushing, and fighting over toys ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY!
The photo above is one of Big Sis and Little Sis fighting over a belt. That’s right…a BELT. Why did they both care so much about a belt? Because they have both decided that anything the other one has is something that they have to have immediately. It doesn’t really matter what it is. In this instance Big Sis was using the belt as a seat belt for her “car” and Little Sis decided she needed that belt desperately. Although Big Sis is guilty of wanting what Little Sis has, too, Little Sis is more often the instigator in these scenarios. Which makes sense. She’s two. So I’ve been trying to get Big Sis to respond better. Because she’s capable of that. She’s four.
But what happens is Big Sis gets really mad and yells and fights and hurts Little Sis and Little Sis gets mad and screams and hurts Big Sis. I give time outs. I snuggle them both and talk to them about being loving to each other. I even raise my voice sometimes, desperately trying to get them to hear me. Nothing seemed to be working. They would hug and kiss and share and play nicely and be at it again five minutes later. To be fair I should say that they do have wonderful days in which they play beautifully for really long periods of time. But still, the squabbles happen enough to really get to me at times.
Today was one of those days where it seemed they just could NOT play together without fighting. I was starting to feel at a total loss because I’d tried every way I could think of to get them to play nicely.
And then I had a moment of pure genius.
It’s probably not actually anything special. But after feeling like this situation is going to get the best of me, and then feeling like maybe I just turned it into a parent win, it’s pretty exciting.
What I started to do was listen for even the smallest sign that they were about to squabble. Grunts. Whiny voices. Accusing attitudes. Anger. And as soon as I heard anything like that, I would say, “Big Sis, what are you teaching your sister?” Because these signs are pretty much always from her. Little Sis is often the original problem. She takes a toy or won’t move so Big Sis can see the show, etc. But Big Sis is the one who escalates the problem quickly with her anger.
“Big Sis, what are you teaching your sister?” At first she just complained about what Little Sis was doing and was very blamey. But the more I handled it this way, the easier it got. Now when I ask her this she stops and thinks and says, “To yell?” “To push?” Or whatever else she had begun to do to Little Sis. I say, “That’s right. What should we teach Little Sis instead?” “To be calm and talk nicely.” “That’s right. Please talk nicely to Little Sis.” “Little Sis, can you please scoot over so I can see too?” or “Little Sis, I was not done with that toy. Can I please have it back?”
After a really terrible morning of nothing but fighting, this one sentence has changed everything. It might not always work. Or I might have my own bad moment and forget to say it and raise my voice and threaten time outs instead. But I just LOVE how well it is working so far and was pretty excited to share about it.
Have you had any genius moments lately? Or issues that you are starting to feel are getting the best of you?