The Four Upsides to Sibling Rivalry

Often times people who see my munchkins interact will comment, “They get along well, don’t they?” to which I will reply, “When they do, they do, but when they don’t …” This last part always ends in an ominous tone and is accompanied by an expression much like this one:

Image courtesy of danitiny2013/

Image courtesy of danitiny2013/

I hate sibling rivalry with a passion (especially after witnessing lots of it over the summer), but I have to admit I do appreciate the many teaching moments it provides (which I can peacefully and quietly reflect upon now that school is back in session). 🙂

Here are four upsides to sibling rivalry:

1. Learning to express yourself. Both E and C know how to speak their mind and express their emotions when they get annoyed, frustrated and impatient with each other. I consider this a plus because they aren’t afraid of conflict and they don’t stuff their feelings or opinions inside. They have a voice and they know how to use it.

2. Developing a thick skin. With all the name-calling and insults thrown around, E and C have learned to not take what the other says about them too personally. They have also learned to stand up for themselves.

3. Calling out bullying behavior. These positive aspects of sibling rivalry only come through when there’s a referee (aka. parent) overseeing the “battle”. E and C have learned from me and hubby what things are okay to say or do and when they cross the line into bullying (which are good lessons they can apply at school).

4. Learning how to make up. Getting the bickering between siblings to stop is only half the battle. The other, more important part, is teaching them how to make up. E and C understand the benefits of apologizing, forgiving, cooperating and trying again, and they practice them often (which is something we all need to know how to do).

So for all the times that my two munchkins drive each other crazy, I remind myself of the many times that they get along well. Such as last weekend when the two of them offered to pluck my white hair. Five minutes into the ordeal, I heard E say to C, “How about I find them and you pull them?” to which she heartily agreed, “Okay!” Five more minutes later, they had freed 19 white hairs from my head and put a smile on my face.

So yes, they not only fight well, they work together well, too. 😀

Side note: Eyebrow pluckers work great for pulling white hair!

Speaking of making-up, here’s Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds”. It’s probably not the happiest song to pick for this post, but it’s one of my favorites.

Apologizing, forgiving and cooperating – which of these do you want to do better at?

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