WAR & peace

70 | MAY & JUNE 2017

Your Baby & Toddler - - Front Page - BY MARGOT BERTELSMANN

very ex­as­per­ated par­ent has thrown her hands in the air and asked, “Why do they fight all the time? Where did we go wrong?” An­swer? Pro­vided you man­age sib­ling ri­valry em­pa­thet­i­cally, and you don’t reg­u­larly lose con­trol of your own emo­tions in front of them, you didn’t. In most cases, sib­lings fight­ing is not only not a sign your chil­dren don’t love each other, or that their home life

MINE, MINE, MINE Ba­bies un­der two strug­gle to un­der­stand the ab­stract con­cept of pos­ses­sion. They think who­ever holds the toy owns it. And chil­dren un­der three are just busy learn­ing about shar­ing – it is hard for them to see an­other per­son’s per­spec­tive dur­ing this ego­cen­tric time. “They are still de­vel­op­ing em­pa­thy and con­cern for oth­ers,” says Robyn-leigh. Praise your el­dest when he is able to share, and ex­plain, “small chil­dren like your sis­ter strug­gle to wait turns. But she can’t al­ways take your toys. That’s not right.” Sim­ply hear­ing you take his side will help him feel heard. Then try dis­trac­tion, ne­go­ti­a­tion or swop­ping toys. YB

You have a house full of toy cars but it’s the flimsy Lucky Packet one they’re mur­der­ing each other over. Why? Some ar­gu­ments are not about the ac­tual toy in dis­pute, “but about the un­der­ly­ing mean­ing of the toy,” says coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist Robyn-leigh Smith. “The toy may sym­bol­ise hav­ing to share their par­ents. The chil­dren may feel that there is not enough love to go around and they need to lit­er­ally fight for it.”

Chil­dren watch you in­tently for signs that you treat them un­equally. Is your old­est al­ways hav­ing to be the “grownup” when some­times he yearns for the time he was a baby? Are your baby’s needs ig­nored be­cause he can­not speak up for him­self yet? Keep an ear out for when sib­lings fight­ing is ac­tu­ally sib­ling ri­valry and a cry for help from one of your chil­dren.

“Some chil­dren nat­u­rally have a more ‘dif­fi­cult’ tem­per­a­ment,” says RobynLeigh. And some­times the kids bicker be­cause they are sim­ply tired, hun­gry

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