We have with us mom-blogger, Mrs. Saloni Banga and the topic for discussion is Sibling Rivalry. To know her more follow @themomupdate on Instagram.
Q. Tell us something about yourself and your children.
I am a mother of two kids. The elder one is a daughter and younger one is a son. They are four and a half years apart. I am a homemaker at the moment but I really want to start something of my own in the coming future. Right now, I am just enjoying this journey of motherhood because I do not believe in the concept of giving my kids to nanny and raising children from them.
Q. What changes did you experience after having children?
I have experienced many changes after having kids. What happens is, before you have kids, your priorities are very clear. Your happiness and everything depends on you, it is all yours. You are the prime focus but your priorities change once you have kids. Then, your requirements take a backseat and the kids requirements become your priority. Therefore, this major change happened after becoming a mother.
Secondly, there are many struggles in motherhood. It is very difficult to raise kids but the best part is, every day you want to do better. You want to be a better person so that your kids get to learn better things from you. I have noticed in myself too that after having kids, I have become a better person.
Q. Why is this particular topic important as a discussion?
Okay, so, the festival that we celebrated recently, one is Raksha Bandhan and we have another, which is Bhai Dooj. So, in a country, where we celebrate two festivals for brothers and sisters or siblings, I think it is the most important topic for the discussion. Because in families, generally there two or more kids. Therefore, I think the topic is very important for the discussion because sibling rivalry actually happens.
Q. Is it necessary? And how can it be avoided?
The process starts with the moment when you know that you are pregnant with your second child. Therefore, you need to start preparing your elder one that there is going to be someone else to accompany you. Because what happens is, I am telling you my experience, when I had Rudra then, Krina was around four and a half. She knew that she is going to have a sibling because I was preparing her by reading many books to her. However, what happened after that is when she saw me 24 hours being with another baby she got literally insecure. She was insecure because she saw that her mother is spending more time with the baby and less time with her. It is as if somebody else has taken the place of being the star of our eyes. Preparing, preparing, preparing, and assuring that you are also equally important are the most important things.
Q. Do you think sibling rivalry is necessary or it should not be there at all?
No, I do not think it is necessary. You can have a healthy relationship and you can have competition through healthy relationship. I think rivalry is a very negative word to represent the relationship the siblings have. I have two younger brothers and I have never felt that they are my rivals or I am their rival. You can call it as a sibling fight or sibling relationship, but I think the word rivalry becomes a negative word.
In addition, regarding whether is it necessary or not, I do not have a clear answer for this because I am still in the process of understanding that. However, I would say keeping healthy competition or healthy relationship should be the motive rather than comparing like ‘‘Krina you should finish your food because see Rudra has finished it.’’ I do not do this kind of competition. Because Krina is a different individual and Rudra is a different individual. Therefore, they are going to do things at their own pace.
Q. According to you what are the issues that come up among kids in this whole rivalry?
The most important thing, which I think a child or a kid face, is that they cannot bear to see that they are sharing parents. Therefore, the sharing thing becomes a very important and difficult task for them. Earlier, the child was all alone, she or he was playing by themselves, maybe a parent accompanies or does not. For example, we make a boundary stating that this is my space and nobody can enter a space of mine. Therefore, it happens with the kids too. My daughter makes her own space in which Rudra cannot touch her stuff. Therefore, that is one thing, that they should not enter into each other space and besides this, they should be compatible too. This is one thing, which I face a lot.
Secondly, what I face is that Krina does not like to share her colours. Her colours are the most important thing to her. If Rudra touches her colours then she shouts a lot. In such a situation, I go to her and tell her that I will give him another colour so that she calms down. So, understanding what your child does not want to share is very important. Therefore, what I have done is I have made a method of keeping their mealtime together and serve them the same food but in different plates. Through this, they bond with each other. So, serving in two plates while eating together makes Rudra and Krina know their boundaries.
We as elders have problems in sharing our things, so they are just kids, they will have a problem in sharing their things like books and toys.
Q. Is it vice-versa, that your son also has a problem sharing his stuff?
Yes. He wants to have the same thing, which his sister has. Maybe it comes from the fact that he wants to establish that I am the leader here because he is in that phase now. There is a control phase of children so, I think he wants to establish that I am the boss here I want everything. Therefore, Rudra also takes her stuff and Krina takes his stuff. However, Rudra is small and cannot be distracted. He is now going to be one and a half years old. To Krina, I can make little things understand but not everything.
Q. What type of dilemma do parents face in this whole situation of sibling’s rivalry?
So one thing, which I feel, is how you foster a positive relationship between siblings. In long term, I do not want them to become rivals or competitors. They should be more of friends who are supportive of each other. Therefore, I really want them to have a positive relationship with each other so that if I am not there or if my husband is not there then they should be able to share their problems or their things with each other. So fostering a positive relationship is difficult as well as challenging too, which will take a longer time because both of them are too young to understand this. So, I have made a rule for myself that I am not going to compare them no matter what happens because Krina’s activities are different from Rudra’s activities.
I will not say that parents do not compare at all, yes we do tend to compare in our minds. Therefore, what I do is, I discuss this with my partner and not with the kids saying that ‘‘see, they have done this and you have not.’’ Because I believe that this will have a negative impact on the kids. As Krina understands each emotion so, if I will say something to her then she will feel that my mother is not accepting me with this behaviour and she is accepting Rudra, so she will get a negative image of herself which I really don’t want to happen.
Q. What are your opinions on punishment? Is this only way to get through sibling rivalry or it should be a big no?
No, I do not think punishment is the answer to anything. Tell me when our parents used to punish us did we ever liked it? No, we never liked it. In addition, punishment makes the child stubborn and they see you as a negative person who is not accepting them in their bad behaviours. They will not understand what you are saying, why are you saying, what has happened and they will not understand the basics. What they will understand is your reaction that ‘my mother or my father is not accepting me when I am behaving badly. Therefore, I just have to behave.’ In addition, later it may happen that they may not be in their good behaviour. Therefore, I feel that punishment is not the answer. You can be firm, you can keep telling them that you cannot hit each other, hitting is not acceptable and your hands are not for hitting. You can keep telling them things like this, but I do not think punishment will have a positive impact on your child.
It is better to go back to our journey as children and understand how we felt when punished. Therefore, I do not think punishment is the answer.
Q. How can we deal with the young ones?
I'll tell you about my experience. What I did was, as my kids are four and a half years apart so when I knew that I'm going to have another baby, I was preparing my child, and I was preparing myself too. Because being a mother of one and being a mother of two is very different. It is not as if second time will come you easy. No, it does not come easy.
I am a breastfeeding mother, so what I do is, once I have fed Rudra, I hand him over to the family member whoever is present in the house at that moment and who offers to help. So that they can take care of him until the time I spend time with my elder one. This way she may not feel neglected and alone. Because it is very difficult for the grown-up child to accept that there is somebody else in the house who is sharing his/her parents. They see everything in parents, they look up to parents; they come and tell everything to parents and they feel safe with parents. So, they get very insecure when they see any other child is with their parents. I think preparing is the most important thing that you should do and spend more time with the grown-up so that they may not develop a negative feeling for the baby.
Q. Any last message for all the parents and their children out there.
I just want to say that being a mom of one is different from being a mom of two. It is not at all easy the second time. Secondly, take it easy until your child is beating each other hard or is on the verge of killing each other, stay calm because they are going to love each other and not become rivals. So just, trust yourself and trust your parenting style. They are going to be your loved ones. In addition, parenting is going to be easier and the future will be nice.