I’m sorry you’ve been waiting so long for support. Between not knowing you’d posted a question, and then my son being ill all last week, it’s taken me too long to get to you, and I’m sorry for that.
I know how hard you’ve been working to help your boys. This may be repeating some of what you’ve already read… Our approach, in regard to siblings is 3 prong
1. games and activities to help the two of them connect. They work best when you can get them two of them to “gang up” on you.
2. Special Time for each of them to make sure their connection cups are full
3. Bringing limits and intervening in the moment.
Then there is a Leadership piece for us – meaning, our ability to step back and notice PATTERNS. In the example you gave me above, it sounds like this happens everyday after school. So we want to expect it and prepare for it. I think part of the “solution” to this Maite, is you expecting that they are going to fight. ALL. THE. TIME. So you can be prepared to step in and BRING A LIMIT – even if it’s already happened – saying calmly to Leo, “I can’t let you hurt your brother like that”.
In all of Patty’s writings about aggression, she really focuses on the child who is instigating things. She does pay some attention to the child who got hurt, but she says that if they are crying (even dramatically) some healing is taking place. It’s actually more empowering to the child who got hurt, if you step in and STOP the hurting. You do want to pay some mind to their relationship. Part of our job is to nurture their relationship. So, when you bring the limit to Leo, you say to his brother, “your brother loves you, but he is not thinking well right now”. That helps protect and mend their relationship. More on that in a minute…
I wonder if when you intervened, stepping between them, if you calmly brought a limit, and said, “I can’t let you talk to your brother like that” what might happen. It could be that Leo would shrug and move away. What if, when you brought the limit, you also brought a mock threat of 1000 kisses. “Anyone who hits their brother gets 1000 kisses” and then start to chase him, but, of course, you can’t catch him.
You may have seen these articles, but I think there might be some ideas in here for you.
The articles might seem like they contradict each other because, in the first one, Kristen says the one who was hurt might need your attention first, and Patty says pay more attention to the aggressor. I would go with Patty’s thinking in the moment of hurting. But other things that Patty and Kristen say about being the SAFETY MANAGER and EXPECTING the hurting to happen – both have some good similar thoughts.
In fact, Kristen Volk has written a lot about siblings. Her two are about the same age as yours, so it would be good for you to do a search for Kristen on the website. Here are a few of her gems…
This teleseminar was on “lashing out” and Instructor Candidate Summer Sheldon shares how she uses lots of affection games to stop the fighting.
I’d like to sum all this up, Maite, by saying that if I were you, I would focus on
– Bringing a Limit to your older son – you can bring it playfully or warm/firm
– Working on their connection. How can you bring the two of them together?
The first article I shared with you above has games that are great for intervening and bringing playful limits, and they can be used to try to nurture the connection between your two boys.
Oh, I had one other thought…. You might actually think about using this bullying intervention that is used in the classrooms. You could modify it and take some of the ideas to build a relationship between your boys and a culture of appreciation. You might incorporate these ideas into a daily family meeting – or a practice of appreciation at dinner time. Clearly, you would not use all of the “classroom” techniques, but I hope it gives you some ideas.
I found this playful idea from Tosha – they all traded roles.
As always, YOU getting good support and lots of Listening Time will give you more capacity to build connection between the two of them. One of the things you might work on in Listening Time is a sense of powerlessness and the idea that it’s never going to get better. Often I find if I cry hard about something, I get to release all the underlying despair that’s eating at me. Then I have more emotional gas to get back in the game of parenting.
I hope some of these ideas help, Maite. Again, my apologies that it took us so long to get back to you.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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