My two daughters fight. Practically ALL.THE.TIME. And by the time I get so sick of their bickering and try to give them my piece of mind, they have made up. What gives? Here are some girl tactics on creating harmony between sisters in the tween and teen ages from Lacey Blackwood.
inevitable. Many of your strategies for peacekeeping when your t(w)eens were
small may prove woefully ineffective in this new era of vast growth and change.
But some of your old methods just need a new spin to make them work again.
1) Create goodwill:
help them make each other something special
encourage good feelings in your family is to introduce the practice of
gift-giving. When one daughter is occupied, perhaps spending time with your
spouse, take aside the other to whip up a special surprise for her sister. This
could range anywhere from a plate of pancakes for breakfast to a personalized
this when they were younger, but it has its place with older children. All that
is required is for you to tweak the nature of the gift. Instead of a macaroni
art of the family, maybe a big sister shirtwould be more appropriate.
remain the same at any age. The helper gets the thrill of surprising her sister
and the warm feelings of giving a loving gift. The receiver is given a pleasant
surprise and the knowledge that the two of you made something especially for
her. And you get quality mother-daughter time that will build memories and bonds
for all of your family.
2) Reduce jealousy:
involve them in each other’s accomplishments
girls to deal with jealousy, particularly if they feel like they’re competing
with their siblings. For a younger girl, it can feel like she is eternally in
her big sister’s shadow. Many of her teachers will have had her elder sister in
class before her and she likely inherited her sister’s hand-me-downs. For an
older girl, her younger sibling can seem like the baby, coddled and protected. She
might feel that she has to compete for your attention while enduring the trials
of having a little sister. This can cause animosity between sisters that, left
unchecked, can last for years.
they were just littles, remedying this may have involved the simple act of
sharing a toy. To curb this particular problem in t(w)eens, try to involve each
girl in the other’s accomplishments.
ways. One of the most effective tactics is to have them work cooperatively towards
a particular goal.
has a test coming up, why not involve the other girl in helping them study? Do
you have an artistic child? Try having her sibling give her constructive
critiques. Do you have a basketball player? She can teach her sister how to
free-throw. These exercises have the added bonus of teaching them study habits
and supportive feedback while giving them a way to be included in the other’s
successes. With your guidance, they can begin to form a partnership, dare I say
alliance. With practice, they will see each other as a cohort instead of a
3) Form or
strengthen a family bond: encourage similar tastes and interests
that your daughters will go on to live their own lives, possibly wildly
different lives in different locations. If you have teenagers, this day might
seem awfully close. If you have an eye on facilitating a healthy
relationship between your girls when they become women, you may want to start
encouraging similar tastes now. Maybe ten years ago it worked to put them both
in toddler ballet, but you can’t very well expect them to put up with that kind
of thing now. They’ve reached an age where they have their own ideas about how
to spend their time and independent hobbies are important for growth. However,
if you are observant, you may notice that they share similar tastes in music or
style or even ballet (it worked!).
sports or math or being outdoors. By gently encouraging their similar passions,
you can give them a feeling of community with each other. To do this, first
identify which interests you think they will share most readily.
plan a family camping trip. While out in the wild, give them a task that is
theirs to share- collecting firewood is a good example- and tell them to
reflect on how they feel while out in nature. Then, have them share these
feelings over s’mores. If your girls are fashionistas, have a girl’s day of
designing your dream dresses. Share your designs and come up with new ones that
incorporate each of your individual styles. They can and will choose their own
paths in many ways, now and in the future, but you can promote a common love
that will strengthen their bond and sense of shared identity.
4) Deal with
fighting: empathize and mediate
between your kids, you can expect a fair amount of fighting. For toddlers and
children, this may be a smack and some wailing. For t(w)eens, this could
escalate to hair-pulling and venomous put-downs. Time out just won’t cut it
anymore. Many parents feel the need to jump into these fights to prevent
bloodshed. The most lasting communication habits, however, are best served by a
mediator, not a referee.
be empathetic to the fact that the tween and teen age bracket is a tough one to
live in. Social pressures at school and among friends can be very hard on young
girls who are trying to find an independent identity. So when Mom steps in, a
child shouldn’t have to worry about being judged or punished for their feelings.
She can’t help her frustration with her sister any more than you can help your
frustration with their fighting. Everyone has the right to their feelings, but
you can set rules about how they act on them. As an authority in your home, you
can put in place rules about incendiary or insulting language. As a
nonjudgmental mediator, you can encourage your girls to study what it is that
they’re experiencing and help them express that to their sister.
because young girls in middle and high school spend a lot of time feeling
vulnerable. Asking them to bare their emotions is a tall order. But your home
should be a safe place where they can talk about their feelings openly, as long
as they abide by the boundaries you set in place.
even in a rebellious teen stage, your children will take cues from your
behavior. If you lose your cool or are dismissive of their opinions, they will
likely follow suit. Therefore, try to keep calm, yourself, and treat every
problem and emotion as legitimate.
t(w)eenhood will pass, and as the years pass with them, you may even remember
them fondly. Even though your daughters may never be the best of friends, you
can help facilitate harmony between them with patience and a touch of cunning.