Are you using the 4 simple steps to focus your children’s energy into identifying and solving the real problem? Are they positively achieving what they want without resorting to the unwanted sibling conflict?
Now that your children have clarity about what they want and how they can get it, you can teach them the valuable life lesson of how to communicate what they want from their siblings (or anyone else for that matter) without laying blame or causing the other person to get mad and upset. Yes, this really is possible and it is an extremely worthwhile lesson for adults too.
When a child feels an emotion they don’t like, they usually jump to blame someone else. You may notice many adults do the same thing. It often continues into adulthood, as we are not taught how to change it. Does this sound familiar:
- You made me so sad, I am crying.
- You make me angry.
- You are so mean.
- I don’t like you because…
Maybe you’re thinking as you read this, “I say the second one and they DO make me angry sometimes.” I am going to challenge you here to think about this in a new way and help your kids do the same.
Can another person MAKE you feel something or is it your choice to feel that way?
One of the most valuable life lessons you can give your child is; “No one can make you feel anything! It is always your choice!”
If you are having a hard time embracing this statement, what I recommend you do is try it on for a week and see how it fits! Live your week as though this is true – that no one can MAKE you feel anything and how you feel is a choice you make. Experience what it is like to embrace this concept. Try the steps below for yourself and you find it easier to pass this knowledge on to your children from your own personal experience.
Teach your child to “own” how they feel and how to communicate what they want from the other person in 3 simple steps
Step 1: Teach your child to “own” their emotion by starting with “I.”
They can let their brother or sister know how they are feeling without laying blame. Use the sentence structure below to teach your children. It is very simple and a great foundation for building the conversation.
“I feel (fill in their emotion) when you (fill in their behavior).
- “I feel angry when you take my stuff without asking.”
- “I feel sad when you say I am dumb.”
- “I feel hurt when you don’t listen to me.”
Step 2: Identify how your child wants to feel and how they can communicate this.
Using the word “I” again, teach your child to tell their sibling how they want to feel.
“I would like to feel (fill in the blank) when spending time with you.” Such as:
- “I would love to feel respected when I spend time with you.”
- “I would like to feel clever when I talk to you.”
- “I would like to feel important to you.”
These statements create a space for conversation where your child can move into step three.
Step 3: How can we make this happen?
Encourage conversation about what the siblings involved can do to help create the feelings they each want in their interactions.
An example”: “How can we work together so I can feel (fill in the emotion they want to feel)?”
It is important to focus on only one child’s feelings at a time. If the other child wants to express how they feel, ask them to put that aside for a moment while you discuss this feeling. Let the other child know that you will go through the same process with them separately.
The bonus you get from following these steps is that you are building a relationship with your child that encourages conversations about their emotions. This is laying the path whereby they are more likely to open up to you about issues in their life outside of home.
You are teaching your child to communicate what is important to them in a way that is empowering and is more likely to get results, not just from their siblings but from everyone they interact with in their life!
In part 3 of the Turning Sibling Rivalry into something constructive series I’ll talk more about the other key part of communication, teaching you child to be an effective listener.