My last blog post was about the “Conceal Don’t Feel Message” the parents from Frozen gave their daughter Elsa, and how had she been a real person, the suppression of these feelings could have manifested themselves throughout adult and childhood.
Unfortunately, Elsa was also given another message from her parents that probably would have affected her relationship with her sister more than was shown in the movie.
When she accidently harmed her sister with her powers she was shamed and punished by her parents. Her message was, “You hurt people”, and “You are an aggressor”. Her sister on the other hand was deemed “the victim” and given more freedom and care.
If we transfer the sibling “aggressor and victim” scenario to the real world, here is what will typically happen:
- Both children begin to believe the messages their parents are giving them. One becomes the “good child” and one becomes the “bad child”.
- Children firmly stay in these roles because this is where they find attention (it doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative) & belonging in their families.
- Fighting increases, especially when mom or dad regularly intervenes.
- Neither learns how to fight fairly or manage their angry feelings.
- They usually end up resenting each other forever. (Yes, forever.)
Here are the strategies that the parents could have used instead:
- Treat children as individuals who have both positive and negative attributes, loving them for who they are rather than what they do and the mistakes that they might make.
- Teach them how to handle conflicts themselves by coaching them through peaceful techniques. Here is one technique is called the Peace Table.
- Notice them getting along and tell them how much you like it.
- Eliminate labeling or comparing children as this just increases competition and resentment.
- Stay out of their fights as much as possible and let them know up front that you will be doing so. If REAL safety is an issue, just stand and watch vs. saying or doing anything.
- Teach & model mutual respect.
- Be aware of each child’s personal temperament and how that affects their behavior.
- Spend at least 15 minutes of special_time w/each child daily
- Become less competitive with your partner as this too increases competition between children.
- Have realistic expectations about siblings & fighting.
Fortunately for Elsa she worked her way through the messages and sustained a healthy relationship with her sister. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case in the real world. There will always be conflict in families; it is how we handle it that will make the biggest difference in everyone’s lives.
Hope this helps! -Paige