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Good Sister Awards – Parenting Tip for Sibling Rivalry

If being mean spirited to your sister was an olympic sport then my girls would take the gold, silver and possibly the bronze. Expecting arguments and bickering, they aren’t immune to disagreements, but lately the hurtful things my children have been saying to each other, truthful or not, needs to be addressed and nullified. Yesterday, a Daddy Day, the teasing, squabbling and screaming eclipsed to the point where I wanted to say, “If you tell her three times to stop and she doesn’t stop then go ahead and hit her.” I’m not even sure what that specific issue was about, but I was not interested in solving every tiny argument between Olivia and Hailey, I was looking for a solution to the main problem which I might have solved or I may have made the problem worse, probably made it worse, you tell me.

The sibling rivalry between Olivia and Hailey is severe. Nothing Hailey does measures up to Olivia’s expectations. Hailey’s artwork is “worthless scribble scrabble.” Or, Hailey “doesn’t even know that.” Or “Hailey’s not even good at that.” Attempting to belittle Hailey’s accomplishments, Olivia feels more important and smarter about herself. I have tried to explain to her that this is a bad thing, “Making her feel bad doesn’t make you feel good.” It drives me crazy because among many things Hailey is quick minded and anticipates what is expected of her. And god forbid, if I ever try to praise Hailey for something, without Olivia whining, “What about me!? I am too!? or I did that too!? or I’m good too!?” And Olivia gets plenty of credit and praise when it is deserved. She just can’t stand to see Hailey succeed at anything.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not all Olivia, because Hailey can be just as mean to her sisters too, “I’m never going to play with you!” is her signature threat when she doesn’t get her way. Or storming off to her room to sulk when she doesn’t win or is losing at a game. Or screaming point blank in Elizabeth’s or Olivia’s face not to take her stuff. Or Hailey shaking her tooshie and teasing Olivia, to the tune of naner-naner boo-boo’s, “I have a play-date and you are a poopy-head.” Hailey’s raspberry song has been rattling around up there for a day or so.

Elizabeth is competing with her two older sisters too. For instance she jockey’s for a seat in Kim’s lap during story time throwing elbows to get the most comfortable spot. She complains at the dinner table feeling left out of conversations and tonight swiped the last pear slice from Olivia gloating as she gobbled it up. She can’t share or take turns with any of her six or seven prized baby dolls. But I guess this is all normal for a one year old.

After a busy daddy day morning of refereeing I had devised a rudimentary plan; use my princess’s competitive nature to enlighten them in good sisterhood skills. My bright idea: ‘Good Sister Awards’ and the timing could not have been better because as I was hashing out PB&Js for lunch Olivia noticed an Elmo cup at the top of her place setting. A simple mistake on my part really, because for the past year anything sesame street has been unacceptable, “that’s for babies” I should have known by the disdain for sesame street, except for when the show is actually playing, not to set the Elmo cup anywhere near Olivia and she whined and complained about the cup. I told her, “it is a cup with your water in it” she persisted and I replied, “you git what you git, and you don’t throw a fit.” Hailey joining chorus on the last part.

Olivia kept going on and on about the Elmo cup. I repeated “no” a half a dozen times, each “no” pushing me closer to going Alec Baldwin on her. I considered that for a split second before deciding to cave-in and offer her the opportunity to pick her own cup when suddenly Hailey volunteered to switch cups. The parenting gods had chosen this moment to merit the first “Good sister Award” right there on the spot to Hailey for her unselfishness and she was proud of herself. And what does Olivia do? She fusses, “What about me… I’m a good sister too?”

“Show me, don’t tell me.” I replied to Olivia which spurred her to break her string cheese precisely in half to share with Hailey. “That deserves a good sister award” I said finally pleasing her. During lunch we discussed how we were going to track the awards and came up with a plan to fill decorated plastic jars with ‘good sister award chips’. Then those chips could be cashed in for special prizes.

Good idea?  I’m not so sure yet myself, it may be a bit too competitive in nature, I’ll let you know how this one turns out.

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3 Responses to “Good Sister Awards – Parenting Tip for Sibling Rivalry”

  1. March 25th, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Grandma says:

    I popped in to visit for the Blog Party. I really liked this idea. I’ll have to check back and see how it goes. Thanks :)

  2. July 1st, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Ginny says:

    Great idea, how is it going?

  3. August 12th, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Patrice says:

    I agree with Ginny- it’s a good idea. Looking forward if there’s any development.

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