by Loretta Walker
The following are some of our family policies that have helped our children.
- Never allow one child to take a toy from another—not even if the one doing the taking is a toddler. When our youngest son Joe was a toddler, he took a gun from K.W. I took the gun from Joe and explained to both that this was not allowed. I told Joe if he wanted his older brother to love him, then he would have to be kind.
- Children must ask each other for toys rather than snatch them away from the other sibling. For the one child to surrender the wanted toy is the only way for the other one to receive it. I have to help with this surrender.
- Unkind words to each other are never permitted. Perhaps K.W. makes a statement such as, “I wish you would have never been born.” I try to teach K.W. that if he wants Joe to love his big brother, he must not say unkind things to him.
After a statement like this is made, the parent should allow the older sibling to explain his frustrations. Be encouraged if he will share his feelings with you. As the parent, you must be aware of any antagonistic behavior on the part of the toddler. As the adult, I can help alleviate these situations.
- Teasing is permitted in moderation and only if done properly. Older siblings should not be allowed to pick at the younger sibling until he is upset. For instance, an older child often teases a toddler by running after him and saying, “I’m gonna get you.” This teasing can get old fast. An older child hiding toys from the toddler just to see him scream in frustration is not permitted.
- The younger is not permitted to hit the older brother or sister just because he is upset. It’s important that the older child sees the younger reprimanded for bad behavior. The younger may not be old enough to spank for hitting or pulling hair, but stopping the action and verbally saying “no” will be a comfort to the older children.
Having policies like these and others will help you know what to do when situations arise. Too many times we decide what is to be done while the children are screaming at each other. We could be unfair toward the older in favor of the younger just to keep peace. The goal is not to keep peace; the goal is to teach the children to love each other enough to work out the problems in the relationships.