When my husband and I were considering adding a second baby to our family, I had visions of my sweet oldest daughter doting on her little sibling. Images of hugs, kisses and shared giggles floated through my head. I read all the books and I did my absolute best to prepare my daughter for the introduction of a sibling, but I was not prepared for what our reality would become. Yes, the moment she met her little brother in the hospital is one I will never forget. Her tenderness towards him was so beautiful. But in the following weeks at home, it was constant biting, hitting, beating and screaming. I sat with her through the emotions, coached her on how to treat the baby, gave her lots of love and affection and set loving limits. I figured it was a phase. Well, folks... Two years later and these can still be frequent battles (now initiated by both parties). It's easy to get in my head. It's easy to tell myself that I am a bad mom, that other families don't have these struggles, that my children are destined to have a painful, tumultuous relationship, that each tense moment is a mega EMERGENCY🚨! But, here is the truth:
-Research has shown that is the *frequency* of interactions in childhood that best predicts how close siblings will be later in life, not the amount of *positivity* between siblings.
-I can pause and meet the needs of my kids *without* telling myself scary stories about the future.
-Each interaction they have they are learning from. The skills they are building all on there own will last them a lifetime. Siblings are the perfect practice mate!
So, what can you do, tired mama?
-First, breathe. This isn't your fault. Sibling Rivalry is not something you created. It is a biologically, developmentally, evolutionarily normal and *helpful* experience for your children.
-Second, meet your kids where they are at. Drop all of the "shoulds" from your mind. Go ahead, give your head a good ol' shake and let them fly away. Your kids are who they are right now and they have valid feelings and needs. Support them in getting those met. They had a very good reason for hitting, toy snatching etc. Honour that reason while you help them to find other ways to meet the underlying need.
-And lastly, savour the sweet moments they do have together. Snap a picture and make it your phone background! Hold those memories tenderly to remind yourself of their true feelings for each other when the fists start flying!
All the best, mama!