And Bean’s life changed forever.
Now, Gracie can get into his stuff. And if he moves it away from her, she can crawl over to it again. Bean doesn’t know what the crap is going on, but he knows he is not happy about it. He’s started doing this really funny thing when he sees Gracie coming towards one of his treasures. He throws himself down on top of his toys and covers them with his entire body, while yelling out, “NO, GWAYCIE!”
Chris and I didn’t really prepare for how to handle sibling rivalry. We had parenting talks about discipline and setting boundaries and potty training and religion and all that other important stuff. But we never really put a game plan together for sibling rivalry. We’ve been shooting from the hip for the past week, and, so far, we’ve actually got a pretty good system going.
Whenever Gracie starts getting all over Bean and his toys, we don’t go remove Gracie from the situation. It would be easy for us to just walk over when Bean starts freaking out and put Gracie somewhere else, but the fact is that Bean and Gracie are going to be playing together for a looooooong time, so Bean’s going to have to learn at some point how to handle sharing with her. Why not start at the very beginning?
When Bean starts yelling about Gracie taking his things, Chris and I usually say to him, “Speak nicely to her, Bean. Gracie is just a baby. She doesn’t understand.” And he actually does. He’ll stop yelling and instead use his sweet singsong voice he uses just for her. And he says things like, “No, no, Gracie. These toys aren’t for you.”
He used to snap at her and say, “No, Gracie! MINE!” But we quickly stepped in on that one. We treat the word “mine,” as a bad word in our house. If he says that word, we sharply tell him, “No, sir. We do not say that word.” That has helped with the temper tantrums this week a little bit because he has to find a different way to tell her to stop. Instead, he usually says things like, “That’s not yours, Gracie,” or “That’s not for you, Gracie.” Both of which are acceptable in our house.
We are coaching Bean verbally as he is talking to Gracie. We don’t go over to them and remove her, but we talk him through fixing the situation himself. After he has told her no, we tell him that if he doesn’t want her to play with his toys, he needs to go get her a toy that she can play with. Or, if he is hoarding all the toys (another thing that’s started happening since Gracie became mobile), we tell him he has to choose one of his toys to share with her. That seems to really help because it gives him ownership over the situation and he gets to make a decision about Gracie playing with his toys.
I know that this is just the beginning of sibling rivalry in our family. I’m sure we have years of this left ahead of us. But I figure at least we’re starting to handle it by teaching Bean HOW to handle it.
How do YOU handle sibling rivalries in your house?