Day 10: SIBLING SQUABBLES & the “Isolation Cabin”

~We are halfway through our 19 DAY JOURNEY! Thank you for joining me!~

Woah, we’re halfway there!
Woah, livin’ on a prayer.
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear.
Woah, livin’ on a prayer!

IMG_8994 (2)

The “Isolation Cabin”

Growing up, when my siblings and I were going at it, my mom would often send us outside to go play or explore. There is wisdom in this, as you and I both know. Somehow, sending kids outside into the fresh air and sunshine swallows up the squabbles —as if the great wide world is just a little too wide and wonderful to raise your voice in. Or, perhaps there are just so many more interesting things to see and do than pull your sister’s hair (not that I ever did that, of course). But the great outdoors aren’t very accessible to most of us right now, and in addition to everything else the mental health of the cooped-up family is in a vulnerable position.

Being quarantined as one-big-happyyfamily is like an extreme version of stuffing your children into an oversized “get-along” T-shirt. On one hand, who can blame your kids for not being able to stand one another after being shut-in together for three weeks? We as parents may be having a hard enough time liking our own kids in this moment. But on the other hand, what an opportunity we have to get to the bottom of our kids’ issues with each other! Our kids have been sent to the “isolation cabin” but unfortunately  we’re stuck there too! So “let’s get together, yeah, yeah yeah!” Family therapy is in session, and it’s no joke.

parent trap

There just happens to be an amazing family therapist that will happily be quarantined with your family right now! And it will only cost you about $5 for as many sessions as you want! Plus, this therapist won’t eat any of your stock-piled food or use any of your  toilet paper rations. Of course I am talking about a book. (Whose blog did you think this was?)

So far I have only come across one book in the sea of parenting books that focuses solely on the issue of sibling rivalry, appropriately titled Siblings without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It may not have any competition, but thankfully it is fantastically comprehensive on the topic! And better yet, it is an easy, enjoyable read and full of cartoons! Don’t worry, the cartoons aren’t that cheesy, they are actually pretty funny.

All of my recommendations on the topic of Sibling Squabbles come from Siblings without Rivalry, so why not read it for yourself? (You can also listen to it as an audible audiobook but then you will miss out on all the awesome cartoons which might be my favorite part). Honestly, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish do a better job than I ever could in addressing each sibling issue and then walking you through how to systematically chip away at each one.


In the meantime, (in case you are in the thick of it in your isolation cabin), here are my five biggest takeaways from the book:

1.) Acknowledge negative feelings, stop hurtful actions:

“We can see how comforting it is to have someone who will listen to our negative feelings. Children are no different. They need to be able to air their feelings and wishes about their siblings. Even the unsavory ones.” -Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

sibsSiblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

2.) Describe. Don’t Compare.

In a nutshell, comparisons (favorable or unfavorable) pit siblings against each other or give kids feelings of superiority or inferiority.

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish explain that the reason we compare is an attempt to communicate something to ourselves or our kids. We compare to communicate that we are: proud, disappointed, angry, confused, etc. 

“Here’s what helped me break the pattern. Whenever I was tempted to compare one child to another, I would say to myself, ‘STOP! DON’T!’ Whatever you want to tell this child can be said directly, without any reference to his brother. The key word is describe. Describe what you see. Or describe what you like. Or describe what needs to be done. The important thing is to stick with the issue of this one child’s behavior. Nothing his brother is or isn’t doing has anything to do with him.” –Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

sibs1Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

3.) Giving equally versus giving uniquely (in stuff, love, and time):

“It was a difficult concept to explain. I told them all the story of the young wife who suddenly turned to her husband and asked, ‘Who do you love more? Your mother or me?’ Had he answered, ‘I love you both the same,’ he would have been in big trouble. But instead he said, ‘My mother is my mother. You’re the fascinating, sexy woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.’ To be loved equally… is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely —for one’s own special self— is to be loved as much as we need to be loved. -Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

sibs2Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Maslish

4.) Dump the roles (all of them):

“It’s true, there are children who do have great natural gifts, and those gifts should certainly be recognized and encouraged. But not at the expense of the other siblings. When one child stakes out his or her area of special competence, let’s be on guard about excluding the others from that area. And let’s make sure that the others don’t exclude themselves. Let’s be wary of statements like, ‘He’s the musician in the family’ . . . ‘She’s the artist.’ No child should be allowed to corner the market on any area of human endeavor. We want to make it clear to each of our children that the joys of scholarship, dance, drama, poetry, sport are for everyone and not reserved for those who have a special aptitude.Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

5.) Step in and then step out (helping kids work it out themselves):

“First I described the steps I planned to keep in mind as I waded into the fight:

1.) Start by acknowledging the children’s anger towards each other. That alone should help calm them.

2.) Listen to each child’s side with respect.

3.) Show appreciation for the difficulty of the problem.

4.) Express faith in their ability to work out a mutually agreeable solution.

5.) Leave the room.”

Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

sibs3Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Please share this post with another big-happy-quarantined-family!

Missed a post or three? Click here: Our 19 DAY JOURNEY Archive


Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

5 Replies to “Day 10: SIBLING SQUABBLES & the “Isolation Cabin””

  1. Oh how I wish I had had a copy of Siblings W/O Rivalry in the 80’s and 90’s! Such great wisdom! Love the “Isolation Cabin” wherever it is, even if it’s a state of mind!😂. Great post! Loved it!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: