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Ahhh, siblings. Remember when they were sweet and cute? And they loved each other and they were quiet and the older one used to read to the younger one and the little one looked at the bigger one adoringly and all was well?
And now, a few quick years later, they are little jackwagons who bicker constantly and fight over who gets to be on your left side and who gets to push the grocery cart and who gets to say “hi” to Dad first and who gets to eat the blue sprinkle they found on the floor by the dog bowl? And the little one is constantly in tears and you want to tell him that his face is going to stay like that, but you remember how mad you used to get as a kid when your mom said that to you?
Ahhh, yes. Siblings. At times, so sweet. At other times…not so much. Naturally, siblings are going to argue. After all, it’s hard to live with someone you didn’t choose to live with, who wants to touch your stuff and make you share your mother’s undying attention. The occasional squabble is one thing, but the constant, daily arguing over every.little.thing is enough to make a good mom cry.
What if I told you there was ONE THING you could do RIGHT NOW that would stop their nonsense once and for all? Or at least stop it cold in its tracks once it starts?
Yup. One thing. And it’s SUPER EASY. Ready? Two words:
That’s right. House Rules.
Start by getting together with your partner to discuss the matter at hand. It’s important that you are both on the same page and present as a united front. There is no point laying down the law if one of you is going to blow it off. If it’s a Big Deal to one of you, it’s a Big Deal to both of you.
Next, begin identifying the behaviors that are driving you insane. For instance, it could be name calling. Or hitting. Or being demanding. Take some time and make sure you capture all of the behaviors to a list. Group like-offenses so no one is overwhelmed by a 32 point list of behaviors. Once you’ve identified the major issues, decide on a consequence.
Write the behavior and the consequence on a piece of paper that will be prominently displayed in your home.
Gather the troops and explain to them that the constant bickering, arguing and behavior towards one another, in general, is not healthy and today is the day it ends. Go through the list and the consequences, making sure everyone understands these are the new House Rules. They aren’t your rules, they are the House Rules. There is nothing you can do about it, these are the posted House Rules. They are what they are.
Last- STICK TO THE LIST AND THE CONSEQUENCES. If you let up just one little time you are back to square one. So don’t give in! Yes, it’s going to be brutal at first because the little darlings are going to test you and test you and test you some more. And before you know it, three weeks will pass and you will think, “huh, I’ll be darned. Greyson hasn’t hit Genevieve in 72 hours” and then he’s going to hit her. IT’S A TEST. Stick to the plan. They are sneaky little sneaks.
Of course, the House Rules list is fluid and will need to change as your kids grow and develop new, annoying behaviors. When this happens, update the list and the consequences and have another team meeting.
Give it a try! You’ll quickly see how ONE THING can create peace in a house otherwise filled with sibling rivalry and snarkiness.
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Happy cat herding!