Your child 5-11 years

Sister-brother relationships: when should we get involved?

Sister-brother relationships: when should we get involved?


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Your children are arguing. Is it better to let things happen or intervene, and how? The advice of the magazine Apple Api to understand what is happening between brothers and sisters and know how to react ...

Understanding sibling rivalries

  • "When are we bringing him back to the hospital this little brother?", "What? She is going to live with us now? "... Of course, the birth of a sibling is sometimes emphasized by its members with a sense of the formula that leaves parents speechless. Before large hide-and-seek parties are organized, before the house is filled with shared laughter, the feelings that first appear are rarely the most tender.
  • Natural and inevitable, rivalries between brothers and sisters reflect a fear: that of losing the affection of his parents. Our denials ("the heart of the parents is growing with each birth!"), Our efforts to devote time to each one, can lessen but do not erase this existential anguish: the other child, whether it is bigger or smaller than me, whether I play with him or not, whether I cuddle him or not, is a threat. Hence the sudden storms when the little brother is sucking in Mom's arms, hence the arguments over who will be sitting next to Dad, hence the recriminations about the number of chips eaten by him. one or the other during the aperitif ... But we know that it is natural, we would happily do these disputes ...

Do not force the good agreement

  • Most parents have the sweet dream of building a family where all is harmony, goodwill, respect and tenderness. Normal: tensions, even transient, put our nerves to the test and cost us much more energy than peaceful moments and accomplices. Yet to want to make them all disappear would be a mistake.
  • Forcing a good relationship, demanding affection, is to prevent children from expressing the emotions that pass through them. To convince oneself of this, it suffices to observe a little man who has recently become a big brother. The family, the relatives crowd around the cradle of the newborn, and it is always an adult to ask the question: "So, you are happy to have a little sister?" In general, it does not get for answer that silence. Even a leak in another room, a back turning. What a tear must be played inside this little person, torn between the desire to content his parents who look so happy, and that to express what he has in the heart!
  • To have it tested, another sentence can cause quite another behavior: "So, it's not very easy, eh, to have a little sister? She's angering you a bit, is not it? "The face lights up, the look, questioning, sketches a smile, as if relieved: someone understands me, someone authorizes me to feel what I feel. The pressure falls. One could even continue and add: "You do not have to like it", relying on the prediction of Françoise Dolto: "Free to hate the one who comes to upset his order, the elder naturally comes to do like his parents, to love him. "

Be firm in the face of physical and verbal overflows

  • However, this authorization to "dislike" should in no way be understood as permission to give free rein to his aggressive impulses. And this is where the role of the parents requires fingering and firmness. They have to frame the physical and verbal excesses, and must intervene when one of their children submits too much to the power of the other. The eldest, of course, has an ascendancy over the youngest, if only because he has more physical strength and plays with his greater aura. Thus, Helen feels obliged to take back her eldest son, a pupil of CP, who gives orders to his little brother, in admiration before him: "Go get me my red hat! Pick up my sheet! "Phrases like:" You're bad "," You're a minus! "Should always be repeated.
  • But the little ones are not necessarily the weakest, on the contrary. So Sandra is sorry to see her 6-year-old son fade away in front of his 2-year-old little sister, who "makes the law": "When I have him on my knees, if his sister arrives, he give way immediately. I find it difficult to make him understand that he, too, is entitled to hugs, even if his sister does not agree. "After a big fight, Marie has gathered his four sons aged 10 month to 8 years: "Whether you like it or not, you will live together for at least another ten years. As far as it goes at best, no? "In contact with his brothers and sisters, with whom he learns to share his place of life, the attention of his parents ..., the child acquires willy-nilly a know-how social that will be useful to him: he does with the existence of the other. As Nicole Prieur points out, in her book Growing up with her children (L'Atelier des Parents): "Fraternity is when the dignity of the other concerns me, when I recognize its value."

Can we be fair?

  • But parents, conductors of this fraternal score, are often tapped by a question: "How to be fair, equitable?" In this, children are quick to make them feel guilty: "It's not fair! He had more syrup than me! He has the right to read longer! She never sets the table! "Through these calculations, it is always the struggle for the exclusive love of parents that comes to light.
  • Parents have everything to gain from not entering this accounting, which slips so easily to the comparison. On the contrary, it is necessary to mark the differences taking into account the needs of each one: "Yes, your little brother does not put the table, but at his age, you did not put it either. Now you've grown up and I know I can trust you. "" Yes, your older sister has the right to read in bed. It's normal, she's three years older than you, and her body needs a bit less sleep. "Every situation, every birth order has its own privileges and disadvantages. To the parents to explain them to each of the children: the little ones, seeing what the elder can do, will draw from it the desire to grow up; the elder, seeing what the youngest still enjoys, will realize the path he has already traveled, the difficulties he has passed: "I too could not fall asleep without my blanket!" The links fraternal ones are knitting and maturing slowly. But what strength in the complicity that follows from it! What richness in all these shared moments, even if they are enamelled of arguments and big sorrows. At the birth of the youngest daughter, my second daughter seemed tormented, while her older sister was beaming with joy. She finally confessed, with tears in her eyes, "that she did not know what to do when you were a big sister." "Nothing," I told him. Nothing. Just be like you are, it will be fine. "Nodding, she told me how she chose" baby's blanket "in the store:" I took it, I tried it for see if we could rub it on his eye. It worked well, so I told Daddy that you could buy it. " She had become a big sister.

To read with children

  • A little brother for Nina, Christine Naumann-Villemin and Marianne Barcilon, The School of Recreation.
  • An unforgettable day, by Lola M. Schaefer and Jessica Meserve, Circonflexe Editions.
  • The mysterious knight without name, Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer, Bayard Youth.

Anne Bideault for the supplement for the parents of the magazine Apple of Api