‘E’ and ‘C’ wrote to me to ask for some Giggle Parenting solutions for squabbling siblings. Here’s a few suggestions and links for further reading.
I’m actually the parent of an only child but what I realised very quickly was that my daughter would have her sibling rivalry moments with her best friend. I used to look after both girls, and I found laughter was my number one tool for dissolving tension between them.
One of the ways that was really effective was to diffuse the situation by having the two girls conspire against me instead of each other. So if they were fighting over a toy for example I would take another toy and hold it tight, declare it was mine, and say, ”I hope neither of you try and pull this off me. And they would have lots of fun wrestling it off me, letting go of all that tension between them by laughing.
Each time I babysat for my daughter’s best friend I’d cook them dinner, and one of their all-time favourite games was to get musical instruments from a drawer, and come into the kitchen and play them really loudly. I’d cower in the corner, exclaiming, ”oh no! Not those noisy instruments again!”
These scenarios really tick all the boxes for Giggle Parenting, the children are in the more powerful role, and they are united against the adult. Any situation you can orchestrate like this is bound to get your kids giggling.
Although I’m including a few ideas here, a lot of Giggle parenting will be spontaneous and in the moment. For example when my daughter didn’t want to hold hands but her friend did. I could see them both getting grumpy. I suddenly started waving my hand around and declaring, ”please no-one hold my hand!” and trying to run away. Immediately both girls were laughing and trying to grab hold of my hand, and very soon they were best friends again.
When things are all too much you might want to set up a pillow or water fight to release tension, but instead of having the siblings go against each other – have them fight against you. Declare how strong you are, and that no-one can knock you down with a pillow, or tell them you really don’t want to get wet.
For E who has a 4 year old and 16month old, one thing I found that worked really well with a younger toddler is to build a tower out of blocks, and then say to the toddler, ”I hope you don’t knock it down.” Then turn away for a few minutes and look back, and perhaps your toddler will knock it down and run away giggling. Who knows maybe the 4-year old will even join in too.
When children are squabbling, they’re getting into ‘non-thinking’ mode where they can’t always control their behaviour, they need us as the adult to step in, and give them the connection they need to get their thinking back on track. Giggle parenting is a great way to intervene before things escalate. I love this story from Hand in Hand instructor Kristen Volk, about how she literally gets in between her two children and completely diffuses the situation.
There’s one time when Giggle Parenting isn’t a good idea, and that’s when children are crying, or really upset, and need someone to listen to them. Although Giggle parenting is great for releasing tension, we also need to be where our children are at in this moment. If they need to talk and vent and cry, then sometimes giggling can be a distraction that can make them feel as if they’re not being heard. So we can try to figure out in the moment if giggling is appropriate or not. Crying is also a natural way to release tension that can get in between sibling relationships, so if we can empathise and hear each child’s concerns then this can really help too.
I hope these suggestions help. Have fun giggling!
If you’re looking for more help, check out this fabulous collection of Sibling Rivalry links from Hand in Hand parenting. You can also try their online self-study course Taming Sibling Rivalry, which is full of great solutions.
For further reading Larry Cohen’s Playful Parenting is packed full of Giggle Parenting ideas.
Do you have a family challenge you’d like to find a Giggle Parenting solution for? Leave me a comment here or PM me via facebook