Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Redux? Sibling rivalry and punishment

No no it's still in hiatus I just had something I wanted to quickly, belatedly, post.

So there's a bit of rivalry going on, if I can call it that. Perhaps Bear captured it best when she described her feelings about Mitt, in a particular context, as 'Frustration'. She's frustrated.

And sometimes it gets physical, I see that expression, the same one I get when I set my jaw and hit the cupboard that hit me. I mean to say, hit the cupboard that I stupidly walked into because I wasn't looking where I was going. A sudden welling of emotion that says 'Right! I'm taking action! I don't care!'

So your answer is going to be 'she gets it from you' but honestly I've managed to maintain a remarkable (if I may say so) amount of composure around the kids, pretty much all of their lives. Not only don't they ever get physically punished, but most of the time I think Beloved and I do pretty well at not losing our cool (too much) when getting cross and delivering admonishment or punishment. The latter usually involves a short period of 'thinking time', or loss of some expected privilege.

Which is the kind of response that gets dolled out if she hits Mr Man, pushes him over, yanks on his arm, or otherwise unleashes some unacceptable aggression. But it's hard, and I don't think it is straightforward, despite what the 'kids today need discipline' crowd might argue.

How much is she interpreting such admonishment as 'I shouldn't hit people' (the generic language we try to use, to take the focus off Mitts), how much is it 'I'm in trouble for hitting my brother' (not so good), and how much is it 'Mitts annoyed me and they've taken his side'?

Sadly I suspect a bit of the last creeps in. But what do you do with unacceptable, and sometimes dangerous, amounts of physicality when they are unleashed?

Thankfully there are reasons to be optimistic. Much of the time they play well, they are now sharing a room on her request and she is coping (though frustrated when he wakes and cries), there is giggling, cuddling, and plenty of good attention. Also, he's almost as big as her already, so give it a few more months and I think she'll be learning, one way or another, to keep her hands to herself.

But damn, it's hard.

By the way, as a post-script to this post-script, did I mention how proud I was when she selected the word frustrated to describe her feelings? I know, I know...

1 comment:

Mindy said...

I can still remember the look of amazement and joy on my son's face the first time his little sister got in trouble for doing something to him. The penny dropped that she could get into trouble too (previously she had been too young to actually do anything to him). After that it was easier for a while as he knew it wasn't all a one way street. Until he worked out that now he could try and get her into trouble. Little sods both of them, but I love them to bits.