When you have one child, you're a parent. When you have two, you're a referee. ~ David Frost
Wow. Just WOW. This quote definitely resonates with me. Having a 2 year old and a 4 year old comes with its share of challenges, and perhaps the biggest challenge for our family has been sibling fighting.
Our girls are 21 months apart. I did all the "right" things to prepare my oldest for her little sister's arrival. I read books to her about becoming a big sister, I equipped her with her own baby doll to help her adjust and learn how to be a sweet, loving big sister. The list goes on and on... Then the BIG moment arrived - little sister came into the world!
Well, my youngest was barely crawling whenever the drama began! Our daughters were fighting over toys and the attention of the adults around them. From who gets to brush her teeth first, to who gets to wear a tutu and tiara, our girls can always find something to bicker about. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of sweet, precious moments between these two sweathearts. Oh, and don't mess with one of them or you'll have two to contend with! But all of the tender moments and close bond does not diminish the fact that our daughters have some serious sibling rivalry going on.
I want nothing more than for our girls to grow up loving, respecting and appreciating each other, seeing each other as best friends with an unbreakable bond. I know I'm not the only parent with this deep desire. As I embark upon becoming a Certified Positive Discipline Educator, I want to make it a huge part of my Mom Talk mission to share resources with you that will help to make your journey smoother and your home more peaceful and happy.
Peace Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop Fighting and Raise Friends for Life, by Dr. Laura Markham, is the next Mom Talk Book Club selection. I think you're going to absolutely love it! I am so excited about this book that I thought I'd share the 3 BIG IDEAS in parenting with you now before we officially begin the book club discussions.
We can either calm a child's storms or worsen them depending upon our response. It is essential that we as parents approach a sibling conflict in a centered and peaceful manner. We must regulate our own emotions before we can support our children in learning how to self-regulate their feelings. According to Dr. Markham, self-regulation is the #1 ingredient for peaceful parenting and she offers plenty of strategies as to how we can center ourselves before dealing with sibling conflict.
Dr. Markham says, "Every child needs to feel heard, understood and valued, just for being herself, or she will feel unsafe and act out... Connection is what motivates children to follow our guidance." Our children need to 'own' the desirable behavior, and they will not own these behaviors just because you 'say so.' When we create a relationship of trust with our children, they will be more open to our guidance. While parents often feel that they are loving and connecting with their children, it's important for us to take a step back and view our relationship from our child's perspective. Keep in mind that connection is not a destination; it's a journey.
We must see our roll as one of a coach where we are teaching and supporting our children to "develop as their best selves." Coaching occurs by "fostering emotional intelligence, guiding with empathetic limits instead of punishment and supporting mastery." Just because your child is miserable, crying and having an unpleasant experience in time-out DOES NOT mean that he or she has a firm understanding or ownership of the consequence at hand. Have you ever found yourself punishing your children for the same offense over and over again? If so, then that is a clear sign that your children need support, more modeling and guidance in order to self-regulate whatever emotions are showing up and presenting a challenge for them.
Perhaps what I love and appreciate about this book the most is that Dr. Markham keeps it real and knows that a peaceful parent will not always be peaceful! You know my favorite quote "There's no perfect way to be a mother, and a million ways to be a good one." (Jill Churchill) Peaceful parenting is no different. In fact, Dr. Markham says, "What distinguishes a peaceful parent is the commitment to self-regulation, connection and coaching instead of controlling. That commitment changes our behavior, one action at a time."
Please join me on this journey as the Mom Talk Book Club dives deep into Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings! We will uncover how peaceful discipline supports the sibling relationship, what causes sibling rivalry and how parents can make it better, and so much more!
Be sure to subscribe to my podcast, Mom Talk with Denise LaRosa (also available on Google Play), which is totally free! This way you can have access to these powerful upcoming episodes and use them as a resource to help you attain and maintain a peaceful and happy home. I can't think of a better gift to give yourself and your entire family!