Posted by: Tracy Barsamian | August 6, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

Wait!  What do these two have to fight about?!

Wait! What do these two have to fight about?!

Okay, so I am r-e-a-l-l-y struggling with something.  My two and six year-olds fight constantly!  Do they not understand why Rob and I spaced them so far apart?!  Did they not get the memo?  We planned to AVOID sibling rivalry.  The main problem is that Keira gets right in Lauren’s face.  She physically invades Lauren’s personal space AND yells right in her face.  Usually Keira just sort of chants/sings nonsense at her, but when she gets really mad, she resorts to her signature anger explosion, “Poopy Lauren! You’re so BAD!”.  My super-duper parenting technique has been to give her a six minute time out — but here’s the verdict on that tactic: IT’S NOT WORKING!  If anything, Keira gets in Laurens face more often as a result.  I know that it’s been so hard for Keira to be de-throwned as the only princess of the house, but c’mon!  It’s time for peace to prevail in our kingdom once again!!

When we first got home with Lauren, Keira was truly out of control and she really let Lauren have it several times.  But, luckily Lauren survived the first couple of months with her big sister and now Keira has finally relaxed.  And frankly, Lauren can give as good as she gets these days!  When Keira gets in her face, Lauren either screams, “NO TEECHA (Lauren for Keira), NO TEECHA , NO TEECHA , NO!!!!”.  Or she just winds up and whacks Keira out of her face.  This physical retaliation causes the big one to completely dissolve.  My oldest and dearest friend (a mom of four) explained it so clearly – Keira is being a bully!  Bullies are wimps.  So when their victims fight back, they cry.

The other piece of the equation is that I think that their conflict is causing me to have PTSD flashbacks to my three sisters and me fighting on Ash Street (in Townsend, MA) where I grew up.  The yelling is triggering me.  And I am letting it show.  My wise (healing owl) friend was just reminding me today how important it is for us to remain calm and react without emotion.  When kids know they are affecting/upsetting us, it is their job as children to push us as far as they possibly can…even if that means off the deep-end.  And I am sure letting my dear Teecha see me sweat.  In fact…now that I think about this, my dad said something very similar to me one of the first weeks we were home with Lauren.  Keira’s behavior was off-the-charts awful.  I was so frustrated that I started to cry.  He also warned me about letting the girls see me react.

So…in addition to not letting the girls see how much the discord affects me, the universe keeps sending me another clear message:  I need to stay out of the girls’ conflict.  Let them find their own boundaries.  Now that Lauren has found her voice (and her fists!), she can stand up for herself.  Really, the two girls are fairly well matched (despite their “well planned” age difference!).  But for some reason, I am really having a difficult time stepping out of the Keira – Lauren – Tracy triangle. I bought the book Siblings Without Rivalry a long time ago, but I am really avoiding reading it for some reason…I wonder why?  Anyone read it?  Any other recommendations?!


  1. It was unclear to me if I needed to read the blog since I live it on a daily basis. This question has now been answered.

    Keira does love Lauren and Lauren loves Keira. They each just want everything their own way.

    • Honey, did you mean to post, “Now I see that I was totally wrong. A blog is much cooler than annoying old Face Book.”?! xo

  2. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an expert. However, maybe it’ll help to know you are not alone and I can share my experience (so far). We are definitely in the same boat! And no wonder, ours are also spaced similarly as we’re nearing 6 and 2:o) The almost 2 year old in our house is still developing his verbal skills, so it’s not uncommon for the 6 year olds to get frustrated with him. Compounding the issue is that he doesn’t quite understand self control and the social skills are still crude. I wouldn’t say the 5+ year olds are perfect in these departments, either, and need occassional reminding in the heat of the moment! Needless to say, fights are common, but I know these type of fights are temporary. For the time being, I do my best to coach them through their fights and help them identify feelings and navigate appropriate ways to express themselves and work towards conflict resolution in age appropraite ways. Kids will always fight, but how they fight will change as they mature. In the mean time, I know it can be exhausting and overwhelming dealing with such strong personalities. Sending you hugs, strength and lots of patience! Remember- these moments are not necessarily going to define their future relationship. The explosive and sometimes violent reactions will pass and we’ll laugh over a good glass of wine as we marvel at how passive aggressive our preteen girls have become;o) These beautiful girls are so blessed to have such loving parents to shape and guide them as the grow and blossom into amazing women!!

    • Andrea, Can I just tell you how much I miss you?! You know, I have to say that you really should have written a parenting book before Kim John Payne wrote Simplicity Parenting…then you could do book tours and run seminars and make millions (instead of him)!! You are such a natural…you make parenting look easy. I am looking forward to that glass of wine very soon. xo, Tracy

      • LOL- I know Pat would love for me to make millions;o) I miss you TONS and I’m so glad that you started this blog. What a great way to touch base with you and be able to keep up with the girls! Keep typing away, mamma!! Cheers;o)

  3. Hi! Love your post! I can only give advice because I have and continue to live it myself. Stand tall and don’t let them knock you off “kilter” and they will learn from you to stand tall themselves. Andrea’s right, we are all going through it and we should sit around more often and have wine and appreciate the days they adore each other.

    • Dearest,
      Thank you so much for the day at the beach. It did wonders for my kilter!!
      Love, Tracy

  4. Well Tracy

    I think a wise man (me) ha said this too will pass. The physical will decrease. Believe it or not, I think things are going well. You have to be restrained in reaction. Think in your mind anything. There were times, though few, when you react and know it’s not true. You may not be able to take it back. I guess the best old saw I can use is “never let them see you sweat”. It’s hard, but it’s worth the agrevation. You will move on to more problems that are different and more complex. I screwed up a lot and look how well you turned. The rival thing will to some extent be there. It does get better.


    • Thank you wise old man! Oh wait, you just wrote wise man. Hee-hee. I Love You, T.

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