Posts Tagged ‘same sex siblings’

When Your Kids Compete

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

When Your Kids CompeteSibling rivalry can easily be one of the most difficult parts of child rearing. In our house, no day is complete without a battle between our two boys, ages 3 and 6. When they wake up, they are racing to my bedroom to see who can get there first. It continues throughout our day: Who got the bigger piece of pizza? Who got to the car the quickest? Who is the better Lego builder? Even when they show affection for one another, it’s not uncommon to hear my one say, “Let’s see who can hug the tightest!” Sometimes my house feels like the sibling Olympics, yet everyone seems to be losing.

Recently, in an effort to make our house a little more harmonious, I started researching ways to fix this issue. Subconsciously, I think we had been fueling the rivalry between our boys. We knew we were doing something incorrectly; the problem seemed to be getting worse, not better, with age. When I asked my friends if their children were as competitive as mine, I’d get a mixed response, but for the most part, most assure me that it is normal for two same-sex children close in age to fight. I agree that a lot of the fighting is normal, but research suggests that although it can be inevitable, there also techniques that can lessen these types of squabbles. Here are a few that we’ve found to work.

Bickering Spouses =  Bickering Kids

According to psychologist Jocelyn R. Miller, kids whose parents argue are much more likely to be competitive with one another. Although arguing might seem like an obvious learned behavior, it can be pretty humbling to admit that the same behavior that drives you nuts in your kids is also something you may be doing with your spouse. Although I would say that my husband and I are very happy with each other, we do tend to bicker quite often, mostly in a teasing way. We have always laughed this off as “just the way we communicate,” but when it affects the children it is time to re-learn ways to express disagreements.  We’ve been trying to get out of the habit of jokingly arguing, which we seem to do a lot, and instead use kindness and compassion with each other. There is a definite correlation between our own kindness to one another and our children’s kindness to each other.

Plan One-on-One time with Each Child Regularly

Another big part of sibling rivalry seems to stem from one or more children not feeling like they are confident in the relationship with their parents. Until recently, our family did almost every single activity together. Our kids were never apart except at school or when they had individual play dates. Incorporating parental one-on-one time with each child can help them feel valued and an important part of the family. We are now trying to make sure that each of us gets a “mom date” or a “dad date” with each child separately, giving them time to have our undivided attention.

Give the Older Child an Important Role

I feel like my kids are most connected when my oldest is given the task as nurturer, teacher, or protector vs. competitor. One strategy that we’ve been trying is have my oldest show his younger brother how he does things, such as pouring his own milk in his cereal, to putting on his shoes. When my oldest takes the attention off of “winning” and instead becomes the teacher, both kids seem to focus more on the task and less on the competition.

Avoid Labeling

I am the first to admit, I am absolutely terrible at labeling my kids. For years I have always introduced C as the “rule follower” and the R as the “wild child.” It is hard not to take notice of your children’s differences, both positive and negative. But as soon as you start putting them into a specific box, such as the “smart one” or the “adventurous one,” you’ve pigeonholed them into a specific category and set them up as competitors and not teammates. If you refer to your oldest as the smart one, then your other children will inevitably rebel or battle for that title.


Thankfully, there are many resources available if you are experiencing a similar sibling rivalry like ours. Some of my favorite ones were Dr. Sears and Supernanny. And don’t fret; sibling rivalry is common and normal. With time and small habit changes you can make your home more harmonious and less conflict-driven.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

I am a Boy Mom

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

I am a Boy MomI will be honest, when I was pregnant with my first Little, I wildly wanted a girl. I am the only girl amongst brothers; and I desperately wanted a sister as a child.  As soon as the Clear Blue stick showed two lines, I had girly visions of dance recitals and prom dress shopping. Despite my penchant for all things female, I couldn’t help but feel like I was carrying a boy. So, it came as no surprise when then ultrasound tech pointed out the “goods” and enthusiastically declared, “It’s a BOY!”  I experienced the same exclamation two years later when pregnant with my second son.  Suddenly, I was a boy mom.

My job of mothering these little men is loud and chaotic and sweaty. But boys are also sweet and incredibly nurturing. They are torn jeans and scraped knees and a hungry thirst for life. And dirt. There is so much dirt.

I love having all boys and here are my top 5 reasons why:

1) Raising Good Men

Having boys, I get a front row seat to watching my little guys grow into gentleman. I am raising them to be sensitive and manly, gentle and strong. I get to teach them to grow up to be good husbands who are respectful of others’ feelings. I also have the opportunity to teach them to appreciate women who are independent, smart, and equally good leaders. Although I may never understand them completely, I can give them the tools to recognize and appreciate a women’s perspective.

2) The Mother-Son Bond

The mother and son relationship is unique; our relationship will set the parameters for all their future love relationships. Being loving and affectionate will teach them to do the same in their own lives. My boys, ages 6 and 3, have no trouble climbing into mom’s lap to snuggle, read, or have quiet time. Although they typically go to dad for all things manly and aggressive, I am their first pick for a good hug. Being their mom, we share a bond that will never waiver. They are unafraid of showing me their sensitive sides because they know that I have arms that will always be wide enough to catch them when they fall.

3) The Sports

I never thought that I would love sports as much as I do, but it’s not really an option when the rest of the people in your home are obsessed. I love watching my sons play soccer and go swimming. I love how excited they get over football and basketball. From the time they were small, I don’t think either of my boys have ever seen a ball they didn’t like. My trunk is regularly full of soccer cleats, balls, water bottles, helmets, scooters, and bikes. There are dirty, smelly little things, but their enthusiasm is contagious.

4) Less Drama

I had a hard time including “less drama” in this post considering that today alone my boys were fighting over a broken crayon, who could sit next to me at a restaurant, and how many cookies the other was allowed to have three days from now. They are loud and competitive. My “moms of teenager” friends assure me, however, that there is much less drama as they grow older. It seems that with boys, they fight loud and quickly and then they move on. The transgression is quickly and forever forgotten. For that, I am infinitely grateful.

5) The Bond between Brothers

There is something distinctive about having kids of the same gender. They will go through similar life events, hopefully experiencing a closeness that will last a lifetime. They can learn from one another and will likely support one another, despite their differences in personality. As much as my boys fight, they are also fiercely protective of one another. They are quick to stick up for each another if they feel one is suffering even the slightest of injustice. I love the bond that they’ve forged and the comfortable relationship that they share with one another.

There are tiny fleeting moments when I feel sad that I will never see my own daughter walk down the aisle, but I know that I was given the children I was meant to love and mother. I am often asked if I will try to have a girl, and I could, but these boys complete our family. And truthfully, trying to keep up with them has left us totally and utterly worn out!

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.