Me First!! A Lesson in Sibling Rivalry
I love chickens. Plain and simple.
Not only do I love chickens, I love to hatch chicks. It’s a careful balance between preparation, diligence, and skill.
The conditions have to be right. Humidity, temperature, and careful turning are all required to act as mother hen for 21 days.
Perhaps my favorite part of the process is when the chicks start pipping and encourage each other to break free from their shell. It’s as if they are cheering from the sidelines for a teammate to score a touchdown.
Shortly after hatching, the chicks stumble around, pecking their way through the brooding box, creating chaos everywhere they go.
The encouragement they had for one another soon turns into an all out war for heat, food, and water. They fuss, snuggle, fight, and chirp.
Does this remind you of anyone, mom and dad? Perhaps you have human chicks of your own.
The perfect playmates you thought would be lifelong best buddies, actually enjoy pushing one another into the water dish one minute and standing in the gap for each other the next.
Sibling relationships are tough.
The dynamics of their special bond can either make or break your sanity. Find peace in knowing that healthy relationships have both positive and negative aspects.
Let’s look at why that is and what we can do to foster good results.
Why they fight.
When you want to stand out in a crowd, you look and act differently. The same rule applies at home.
When siblings are similar in appearance, learned mannerisms, family history and values, they look for ways to increase their individuality. What makes them excel? Stand apart? Be first?
Siblings need to feel as if they stand out. They need to have a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Even if it does mean they gently nudge their brother into the water dish on occasion.
A common declaration at our house is, “I call shotgun!” You’ve heard that, too? How many times do our children fight over the front seat?
What about getting to use the bathroom first? Or what radio station to listen to?
I’d love to say that they are genuinely interested in the radio, bathroom or front seat, but realistically I think it means they simply enjoy winning in a contest against their sibling.
As parents, we tend to view that as a fight but our children see a competition.
Just because sibling rivalry is a natural part of a relationship, it doesn’t mean that a parent should allow children to be mean to one another, emotionally or physically.
To ensure that everyone grows within healthy boundaries in a safe, respectful home, consider the following parameters for sibling disagreements.
– Each sibling should be held accountable for his or her own actions. Reacting in a way that is mean or disrespectful because their feelings are hurt is never a justification for poor behavior.
– Use conflict as a way to teach your children to argue with well formed opinions and clear, supportive reasoning. Don’t just argue to argue. Practice being well spoken and informed. Who knows, you might have a future lawyer in your midst!
– Know when enough is enough. Help your children know that sometimes they will win and sometimes they will not. Being gracious when you’ve lost is hard to do but it’s a very important skill to learn.
Our chickens are growing quickly and finding their way around the brooding box. They still spend half their time cuddled together for warmth and the other half knee deep in the food bowl.
I pray that my children will continue to huddle together as well.