“Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Weekly Trip to the Library

I have been fortunate. With just one brief exception, all the children I have cared for got along well with their siblings. This is clearly not the norm. Sibling rivalry is common and that is why Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too is such a popular book.

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too gives parents and caregivers the practical tools needed to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special sibling relationship.

Each chapter of Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too is filled with anecdotes and examples. The chapters each end with tips and guidelines and select stories from parents of their successes implementing them.

Faber and Mazlish point out that we know that children need certain skills and much practice to read, do math, play a sport, or learn an instrument. Similarly, the authors share that, “The family is where we learn our relationship skills. And the way we relate to our children and teach them to relate to each other, even in the heat of battle, can be our permanent gift to them.”

Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide suggestions on how to help children channel their hostility into creative outlets, and demonstrate how to treat children unequally and still be fair. They discuss challenges such as jealously, labeling, and comparing amongst children.

The authors advise caregivers to treat and teach children uniquely, not equally.

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too encourages caregivers to step in when needed, but to empower and encourage children, so adults can step back out as soon as possible.

Faber and Mazlish write, “We permit children to express all their feelings. We don’t permit them to hurt each other. Our job is to show them how to express their anger without doing damage.”

We should teach children what we want them to do rather than yelling, name calling, or hitting. For example you might say, “You sound mad, but I expect you to confront your brother without using names or hitting. Rather than name-calling and hitting him, you can hit a pillow, talk to me, or draw a picture.”

When things sound loud between siblings say the following: “Is this a play fight or a real fight? Play fights are permitted. Real fights are not. Play fighting by mutual consent only. If it’s not fun for both, it’s got to stop.”

Or you might say, “You may be playing, but it’s too rough for me. You need to find another activity.”

The authors recommend telling the children, “I see two very angry children who are about to hurt each other. It’s not safe to be together. We must have a cooling-off period. Quick, you to your room, and you to yours.”

All kids want to be heard and understood; not shut down when they show an emotion. While the authors acknowledge children need to have consequences for bad behavior, they convincingly explain what children crave most is to be acknowledged.

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You can purchase your own copy of Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by clicking the titles in this review or by clicking here to visit my storefront.

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