I am a mum of 2. The girl is 3 while the boy is 2 years old. They're both cheerful and bubbly but my problem is that they always fight in almost everything; food, toys, even mine and my husband's attention. I'm afraid they will grow up on this. I and my husband are giving them equal love and care as best as we could so that none of them would feel neglected. But still, there is rivalry between them. What should I do to avoid this? Is there any method or ways I can do to stop them from always fighting?
This issue of sibling rivalry is, as I'm sure you are aware, very common. As with many areas of gentle parenting, I would say that the main factor to consider is the overall attitude/ ethos you display towards your children and how you respond to their individual needs.
In practice, this could mean allowing each of your children to have some one-to-one parent time each day. Perhaps they could each have 20-30 minutes of your full attention (when the other child is napping/ reading/ playing with friends etc) when you can do an activity that child particularly likes doing. This activity will be different for each of your children and it is good if you can allow your child to choose the activity themselves.
Involve both of your children in caring for each other as a family. Talk, draw pictures and read books about looking after each other and being sympathetic to each others needs. This will probably be easier for your daughter as she is older but you can start to involve both of them in this process and continue it as they grow older. Some families hold 'family meetings' or just have a dedicated family talking time each day (when the children are approximately school-age) so that they can discuss how they are feeling and if anyone feels hurt or upset.
Gentle parenting does not mean parenting without guidelines. You can, and I believe should, set limits to their behaviour and convey to your children what behaviour you expect of them. An example of this would be that hitting each other is unacceptable and they will need to change task if they do so.
What is obvious from your post is how much you love and cherish your children. You and your husband sound like thoughtful, caring and gentle parents. Whilst you clearly love each of your children equally, I don't necessarily think you need to treat them the same. Dr. Sears writes about this in 20 Tips to Stop Sibling Quibbling and Promote Sibling Harmony when he writes:
'In their desire to prevent sibling squabbles, parents strive to do everything the same way for all their children, whether it's buying pajamas or selecting a college. Children aren't the same; you don't need to behave as if they were. Make moment-by-moment decisions and don't worry about the long-term consequences if you give one child more strokes than the other one day.'
I find this view very interesting and unusual yet it resonates with what I myself am experiencing, now that I am the parent of two.
In conclusion, I would try not to take sides but help your children to solve problems together. I hope you find that this philosophy helps to diffuse the conflict situations between your kids.
Please do post back and let us know how you get on/ if you need any more suggestions with this.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Good Day LJ,
I have practiced what you said about not taking side and help your children to solve problems together. However, most of the time, if not all of the time, one of them will cry and more often it is the two years old who cries. Sometimes my husband and I think that the younger one is pretend crying because she knows that we will side with whoever is crying. Sometimes I let her cry for as long as she wants, specially when I feel she is just doing it to get our attention. Is this healthy?
It is better if you can respond to your children's needs rather than leaving them to cry. There is some research that indicates that leaving a child to cry (especially for as long as she wants) causes a child to become stressed. This raises their blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to the potential health implications of this, it will have an affect on your child's long-term relationship with you and will also affect how she interacts with others now and as she grows up.
When there is a conflict situation between your children an excellent tactic is just to do something really silly (like jumping around pretending to be a monkey!) in order to divert their attention, make everyone laugh and hopefully diffuse the conflict.
Another tool for dealing with these inevitable conflict situations is to change task. Children often squabble when they are bored or wanting to gain some time with their parents. If they start to squabble then you could say ok everyone out into the garden and get them running about and playing energetic games in the garden. If your children like crafts and making things then there are some fabulous, interesting ideas at the imagination tree which should keep them amused and happy.
Try to get your children to see the situation from each others' point of view. If necessary, you may have to remove the toy or get out new toys if they are both after the same toy and the conflict cannot be easily resolved.
I would encourage you to use the ideas from Dr. Sears that I shared above. Also, have a read of this Little Hearts article entitled 'To a Toddler Sharing is a 4 letter word-MINE'. I find this article interesting because it talks about how important it is that we model sharing to our young children.
With warm wishes,