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Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too


Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too Cover

ISBN13: 9780393342215
ISBN10: 0393342212
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Already best-selling authors with , Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish turned their minds to the battle of the siblings. Parents themselves, they were determined to figure out how to help their children get along. The result was . This wise, groundbreaking book gives parents the practical tools they need to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special relationship. With humor and understanding--much gained from raising their own children--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. Updated to incorporate fresh thoughts after years of conducting workshops for parents and professionals, this edition also includes a new afterword.


The #1 best-selling guide to reducing hostility ?and generating goodwill between siblings.

About the Author

Adele Faber, whose books on communication between adults and children have been translated into more than thirty languages, is the award-winning author of the best-selling How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.Elaine Mazlish, whose books on communication between adults and children have been translated into more than thirty languages, is the award-winning author of the best-selling How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

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Amy Wachsmuth, December 29, 2013 (view all comments by Amy Wachsmuth)
How This Book Works

Siblings Without Rivalry follows a set of parents in group sessions with the instructor/authors. At first, I thought it was a lazy way to write a book; after a short introduction the narrative reads like a dictation of parenting group sessions. It's not, of course, it's a thoughtful distillation of their experiences teaching sibling relationship sessions to many groups of parents. As I read, I found the parents' stories and conversations moving. The parents asked nearly every question that popped into my head, which was accompanied by a satisfying response. It was also comforting to read accounts of other parents making the same mistakes I have, and being just as clueless as I am about what to do.

The following is the outline and an example of the type of advice in that chapter.

Brothers and Sisters Past and Present
This chapter asks parents to record sibling conflicts, and sets expectations for what you can achieve as a parent.
Example: In response to one woman's statement about wanting her kids to be friends, the author replies with her own story, “‘Instead of worrying about the boys becoming friends,’ I explained, ‘I began to think about how to equip them with the attitudes and skills they'd need for all their caring relationships.’” Brilliant.

Not Till the Bad Feelings Come Out
Listening to your child complain about the troll that is their sibling, and acknowledging their feelings, is a very healing process.
“Insisting on good feelings between siblings led to bad feelings. Acknowledging bad feeling between siblings led to good feelings.”
Other emotional skills are important such as, naming feelings, and reflecting back to the child what they are feeling so they know you understand, for example, “You seem to be feeling angry that Gabi took your stick horse without asking.”

Perils of Comparisons
Even if you don't actively compare your kids to one another, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” The water is murky, for example praising one child within earshot of the other can feel like a put down to the other child.
Another insightful example: when a mother praised one of her child's improvement in math, the other gloated about her even better grade. The mother could have responded by saying, “There's no report card contest going on here… …I want to sit down with each of you individually to…” Then follow through giving each child your full attention and focusing your discuss on that child’s individual progress.

Equal is Less
Personally, I have railed against trying to be fair, and right from the start didn't tolerate, “She has more!” and “I want one too!!” However, just because I didn't tolerate it, didn't stop either child from feeling slighted if I didn't provide duplicates of everything. Now I have some new tools for working with this. I have added, “Everybody gets what she needs. I'm not worried about what anybody else has, if you need more, you can have more,” to my parenting mantras. Or I might say, “Eat what you have first, then if you need more there is plenty here for whomever needs it.” I still don't count and measure, and the girls are more relaxed knowing their needs will be met.
This chapter was also important for answering the, “You love Gabi more!” accusation. Instead of angry rebuttals, I now reply by telling Danielle all the things I love about her, and how much she means to me. I don't mention Gabi at all. She glows. She hasn't said that since I read this book.

Siblings in Roles
How often has, “This is Danielle, my little artist, and this is my monkey climber girl, Gabi” rolled off my tongue? It's so easy to cast kids in roles. I always thought I was praising a strength, but in reality I'm limiting my kids' potential. By labeling Danielle “The Artist”, she thinks that art is the only thing she's good out and resists branching out. Also, it could also limit Gabi's interest in art. Or worse, what if by some freak of talent, Gabi becomes a better artist than Danielle? Then Gabi will have taken Danielle's identity as “The Artist”. I've re-trained myself to introduce them as my daughter, Danielle, and my daughter, Gabrielle. That's it. They get to decide who, and what they are. I also have to guard against other people labeling them; I try to always say, “Yep, she likes to climb, but can do so many other amazing things too, like, color, make funny faces, tell a funny joke… She told me this one the other day…

Out of their earshot, I love to compare and contrast my kids' abilities and personalities. It helps me get a handle on them as individuals.

When Kids Fight
The first piece of advice is to do nothing. Weird, but what a relief! If it escalates, in my house it usually does, then the best thing to do is describe what you see without passing any kind of judgement. Kids are notoriously self centered, making it difficult to understand a sibling's intentions or point of view. Add to that the heat of conflict… Kaboom!
A parent can come into a dispute, hear and reflect each side in a way that both kids can understand, and them let them work out a solution.
Me: “Wow you guys sound upset.”
Danielle: “Gabi has my favorite necklace, and she's going to break it!”
Me: “You're worried that Gabi will break your necklace. It is really pretty, Gabi must really like it.”
Danielle: *calmer* “Yeah, but it's mine. And she's going to break it.”
Gabi: “No, it's actually MINE!” (It is not, of course, but Danielle has programmed this one into her stock phrases cache.)
Me: “Gabi, that necklace belongs to Danielle. She's worried that it might get broken.”
Gabi: “I want to wear it!”
Me: “Danielle, what can we do here?”
Danielle: “That one is my favorite, but she can wear this other one.”
Gabi: “Thank you, sis-ter.”
This actually happened. REALLY.
When I come in and describe what I see, show respect for Danielle's property rights, she might unlock her position and shift into finding a solution that Gabi will be happy with too. Gabi is a bit little to understand the nuances of what went on, but I also try to coach her by giving her things to say and ways of asking that doesn't trigger Danielle's volatile temperament. It is no small feat, and takes a lot of self-control on my part, because something is usually cooking on the stove, or the phone is ringing, but as I'm teaching them, I'm also learning how to focus and respectfully interact with them.

Making Peace With the Past
One woman spoke of how she was continually compared to her sister in an unfavorable light, and how it still affected her to this day. Through these sessions, she began to realize that these comparisons probably caused some suffering for her sister too, and she decided to call her.
“Then she told me how sorry she was for the pain she must have caused me, and how much it meant to her that I had called, and that if I hadn't, we might have gone to our graves without ever knowing each other. Then I started to cry.”
I endeavor not only to avoid this sort of mistake in raising my girls, I also want them to know what potential they have in each other for a lifelong companion. No one will understand or know the essence of you like a sibling. No one else will witness the trials and triumphs of your formative years from a first hand perspective, one that can actually enhance your understanding of those times. Even your future spouse or children won't be able to know you in that level of unspoken understanding. It's why I psshaaw, whenever my husband tells me how lucky he got to have me… All the people I grew up with know that he is my good luck.

There's nothing I can do to make Gabi and Danielle become friends, nor would I try, but I can avoid deepening the rift between them, and I can give them the building materials they need to bridge the gap between them when they are ready.

I have hope.
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Product Details

Faber, Adele
W. W. Norton & Company
Mazlish, Elaine
Self-Help : General
Publication Date:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » General
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Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too New Trade Paper
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Product details 288 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393342215 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The #1 best-selling guide to reducing hostility ?and generating goodwill between siblings.
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