Dear Miss Faith,
I am looking for suggestions to help with some fairly severe sibling rivalry. This is a preschool-aged old boy towards his young-toddler sister, in a family which I visit with regularly and care about deeply. Thank you, M.
How frustrating for you to see two children you care about being unkind! Kudos to you for looking to take some action to help this family. When you are with the children, are the parents present or not present? Are they at your house, or are you at their house? These things will all come into play. One book I like a lot is “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Is it possible for mom (and/or you) to spend some time with each child alone every few days or at least each week?
For short-term strategy, here are some ideas; you can announce one day that there is a new rule in your house: everyone must touch with gentle hands. Show everyone what touching with gentle hands means (at it means kind of stroking your friends on the arm), and have everyone practice. “Yes, that’s it! Now you know how to touch with gentle hands!” Notice out loud anytime you see someone touching someone else gently. And if anyone forgets to touch with gentle hands, show sadness that they forgot, and send them immediately to get the Healing Stone (or the Healing Cloth, or an ice pack, or whatever you wish; keep it in a special place that only comes out when someone gets hurt), and touch it to the child who is hurt. Then find some good work for those hands: tidying some blocks, wiping the table, etc. You do this “good work” with him, then thank him for his help, give him a hug, and he can go play again. It’s not a punishment, it’s just helping him learn what is appropriate to do with his hands.
Dear Miss Faith,