Fighting between siblings is hard on any family. I have my own list of strategies for dealing with those conflicts, but sometimes I find it helps to respond first to the case building with a healthy distraction or a story instead. By telling my kids stories about happier times or potential good days ahead, I'm building into them a sense that the disagreements of today don't have to go on with them into forever. Here are four ways you can tell a story that might help your kids see their future together in a new light.
Tell a make believe story about getting along in the future. Sometimes when my kids are in despair after days and days of disagreements, I tell them a story about all the fun things they'll be able to do together when they are older. I supply the conversation, the dialogue, the voices--anything and everything needed to paint a picture of a sister and brother who get along and have great adventures together. My children are intoxicated by the idea that someday they could have that much freedom or solidarity, and they listen spellbound as I describe their someday journey into peaceful co-existence. These stories not only entertain, they plant a little seed of hope that their future together can be happy and bright.
Tell stories where birth order plays a role. If you are the little sister and have a little sister at your house who is having a hard time, it's okay to commiserate. You can tell a story to let your daughter know you know how it is to be the littlest. These stories communicate empathy and build the bond; for these very reasons, I'd reserve this kind of story-telling for key moments when just one child is present. Conversely, if you're the oldest, let your oldest in on the secret that you understand that it's not always easy going first at everything.
Tell a story about getting in trouble. My kids love to hear stories about how we got in trouble when we were kids. I add drama (and details) and they supply the laughs. Understanding that I was once a kid who got in trouble, helps them know that I may just understand more than they thought about how hard it is to be a kid. Adding any available sibling drama from the family lore, and they are riveted.
Tell a story about someone you know with a happy ending. If your own stories will read more like horror tales than happily ever after, consider telling the story of anyone you know who had an adventure with their sibling in childhood or beyond. Kids need to know that it's possible to have positive and happy interaction with a sibling even if this particular moment isn't the most blissful ever.
What positive things did your parents do to reduce sibling stress at your house?