Thursday, December 22, 2005

When Good Kids Go Bad

The Boy and Cinderella are now mortal enemies. No longer the pair of loving siblings, these once sweet children have now turned into hellions whose sole purpose is to drive my post-partum self past the brink of insanity.

Since we moved The Boy upstairs, Cinderella has made it abundantly clear that she doesn't like hates having to share a room with her little brother. And apparently, although I've read it millions of times, the terrible twos can strike at ANY time -- even beyond age 3, as apparently is the case for The Boy. Woohoo! The Joys of Motherhood are upon me!

These days, our house is filled with whiny pleas of "STOP COPYING ME!," which are then typically punctuated by everyone's all-time fave: "I'm telling Mommy/Daddy." (BTW, Cinderella was the one who taught The Boy the joys of copying people, despite her father and I forewarning her that she would one day regret it, but what do we know!) The concept of sharing is now lost on my stepdaughter who is apparently attempting to wield some control over her loss of space by trying to keep her belongings away from The Boy. The Boy now screams screeches shrieks when he doesn't get his own way--and DAMMIT IT why shouldn't he as the world DOES revolve his 3-year old self, doesn't it?!?

Yes, hormonal temper tantrums are running rampant in our home. Sadly, these outbursts have not been limited to the children. I'm afraid to admit that I've not displayed the most exemplary behavior over the last month either. Post-partum hormones are no joke. (Please don't tell Tom Cruise because I don't think I can take his tongue lashings right now.) (BTW, I'm so over him. What a dumbass.)

I'm most guilty of feeling that Cinderella is to blame for most of the recent sibling conflict. After all, she is 6 years older than The Boy and should be setting a better example. Then there's the bio-kid vs. step-kid struggle. My stepdaughter is not with us full-time which only draws more attention to the fact that things are more peaceful when she is visiting her Mom. I've had to work extra hard at being fair to BOTH children, not be so quick to judge or intervene, and even realizing that The Boy is just as capable of being the instigator as his big sister. (Gasp!)

So how are we coping with the sibling rivalry?

First, Hubby and I have discerned that the majority of the conflict began when The Boy moved upstairs and Cinderella had to share her room. Her sense of personal space and privacy has been violated, even though she has not had to give up any actual space as The Boy is in a previously unoccupied area of the upstairs room (we were using it for storage). So we've had to do a lot of privacy control, laying down boundaries and reassuring Cinderella that The Boy is not allowed in her area of the room when she is not at home -- and vice versa. They BOTH have to ASK before playing with each other's toys, and they are allowed to give some toys "special" designation and are not required to share. Then, there are those toys that become common property particularly when they are left downstairs in the family room (this is a great trick for getting them to clean up BTW!)

When conflict does ensue? Unless there's a legitimate threat of physical harm, I've resorted to letting them work things out on their own. Actually, I've had little choice in this. Have YOU ever tried to race up a flight of stairs with a nursing infant attached to YOUR boob? It's impossible.

And when all else fails, a little absence makes the heart grow fonder. I simply send them to their respective corners for a while. A little alone time is all they need to realize just how much they do love each other and how boring life is without the other.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for keeping peace among squabbling siblings?


Dolfinnlover said...

I am sorry I cant give you any suggestions, only maybe explaining to your daughter that he is at that age so on and so forth. I have similar problems and they are 13 years apart!

TRUTHZ said...

do you think they are acting out because of the baby and not the space sharing?

Wicked Stepmom said...

Truthz: After having a conversation with her grandfather and my husband, my stepdaughter admitted that most of the issue she has with her little brother is that she feels that, in addition to having to share a room, she now has to share ALL of her toys with him. Her point is valid; the Boy will share EVERYTHING with her, so hubby and I felt that she should do the same. Clearly that angle is not working, so we adjusted the sharing "rules" and allow each of them to have special toys that they are not required to share, and we then encourage equal sharing on all other toys (except new toys that they get for birthdays/Christmas/etc).

Wicked Stepmom said...

Hi Dolfin: We have done that too... and are trying to teach my stepdaughter the finer art of selective hearing. :)

TRUTHZ said...

sharing is a crazy stage for two year old is the only one that lives with me so when others come to play it is on...and like you i don't make he share his favorite toys but everything else he does....i explain to the other kids that this is his special toy and he doesnt have to share it(sounds rude, but even as an adult, i have things i don't wt to share w/ anyone)try getting the elmo tape on sharing...elmo in grouchland

Wicked Stepmom said...

truthz: Elmo in Grouchland is a great movie. Ironically, it was Cinderella's when she was little and The Boy has watched it a couple of times (when he was going through his Elmo phase). The problem is, he's not the one with the sharing problem. For a 3 year old, he shares very nicely with his older sister; Cinderella isn't quite as generous as of late. :/