Stopping Sibling Rivalry

A playful way to resolve sibling conflict can go a long way toward a happy, cooperative family life.

As most siblings do, my nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter pester one another sometimes.  One day they were lying on the living room floor about an arm’s length away from one other.   My son started poking my daughter in the leg and she whined back at him, “Sto-o-o-o … o-o-o-o-p it”.  She refused to move or even deal with it, so she got stuck in her whining.

I thought, “OMG, here we go again.  Not now.”  I could see this was escalating, but I also knew that the sooner I could lay a blanket of connection over everyone, the sooner my children could be in touch with their caring, kind selves.  I recognized that I was in a pretty good place so why not just dive right in?

I decided to lay down in the middle of them to see if this little shift would change their dynamic.  Of course, it didn’t.  My daughter actually moved her leg into a better position for my son to poke her and with this invitation, he jabbed her leg repeatedly.

It seemed my presence made the situation worse and her whining increased.  It was frustrating that I couldn’t just “fix” my kids and set them straight.  So I had to figure out a Plan B rather quickly.

Playlistening made the most sense to me at the moment.

My daughter’s incessant whining of “Stop it” reminded me of the Supremes' song “Stop … in the Name of Love.  Before you break my heart.”  I gave singing it a try, but with my own words.

I started singing in a relatively soft voice, “Stop … Poke-ing my Leg.  It doesn’t feel so good.”

Both children stopped to listen to me, so I figured I could take it a step further.  I started repeating “Stop … Poke-ing my Leg.  It doesn’t feel so good,” getting louder each time.  My daughter joined in with lots of giggles. We started adding actions to the song with our hands straight out in a Stop position and adding hip action.  “Stop it Now-ow-ow.  Stop it Now-ow-ow.”

My son couldn’t resist joining in.  He shifted his position around so we were all parallel to one another.  Literally, in about one minute, we were all howling with laughter and felt relaxed and connected.

We all forgot the reason we had started singing the song in the first place.

Playlistening is a powerful parenting tool that helps build connection through laughter. See how it works in Playlistening Changes My Daughter's Mood in Minutes. 

Kristen Volk is a certified instructor. She lives in Denver. You can connect with Kristen through Facebook. And if you'd like to learn more about solving sibling rivalries, check out the online video class Taming Sibling Rivalry.

Sibling RivalrySurvival Guide-1Are you looking for more tips on how to handle sibling rivalry? Get your free copy of the Ultimate Sibling Rivalry Survival Guide and you’ll learn what to do when chaos ensues, how to handle the most common sibling struggles, the secret to sibling friendships, and much more!

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