Monday, October 1, 2012

A Whole New Perspective on Siblings

Let me tell you the story of two very different little girls.  The first little girl is whiny.  She often takes toys from her brother and makes him cry.  She pushes him down when no one is looking.  This little girl isn't a monster, but is often looking for trouble.  For example, if she realizes it irritates her brother to call him a coconut head, she will do it again repeatedly and giggle with evil laughter.

The other little girl is an angel.  She never whines.  She never takes away toys.  She asks sweetly for people to play with her.   She waits patiently and plays by herself by reading a book or playing with her dolls.  This little girl goes with the flow.  If she doesn't get a nap, she doesn't get whiny.  She might be a little tired and not as perky as usual, but she doesn’t whine or complain.  This little girl is fun.  She laughs a lot and the people around her are constantly smiling at each other with her adorable antics. 

Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking the first little girl must have terrible parents, right?  Wrong.  These two little girls are both my daughter, but under very different circumstances.  You see, I recently took a trip to Charleston to visit my brother but Little Buddy stayed home and this gave me the unique chance to interact with my daughter by herself.  I was astonished at the change in her.  She never whined.  She never cried.  She never had fits of any kind.  My family and brothers were enamored by this little angel and it was truly one of the most special trips of my life.  

I've thought a lot about why this trip was so different and I have it narrowed down to 2 reasons:

1.  There was no competition for her.  She was the only kid on the trip.
2.  We were on vacation so the normal hectic schedule didn’t apply.  We actually had time to watch her and play with her and we took her fun places and went out to dinner.

Unfortunately, this isn't real life.  She does have a brother and Mommy and Daddy have to work to pay the bills and actually, I think the daily grind of siblings and schedules is important because it teaches kids that they aren't the only people in the universe and it helps them prepare for real life.  This became very evident toward the end of the trip when she started demanding that people play with her constantly.  She was still polite and cute about it, but it was clear that if our daily life was always full of trips to the beach, ice cream no school and no work, my daughter would probably be a very spoiled little girl.

However, this special glimpse into a different little girl really helped me.  After we got back, my daughter was whining at the kitchen table about something.  My first reaction was to be irritated and demand that the she quit whining.  Then I thought back to our trip and it hit me.  Her true spirit was sweet and helpful and kind.  Life interfered and it was frustrating to have to learn life lessons like patience, and that is what makes her whine.  I know now that I just need to keep on doing what I'm doing so she can live up to her full potential of the girl I knew in Charleston: the girl with a lovely, sharing spirit who simply wants to please the people around her. 

Now when she acts whiny and demanding, I just think of her as Little Miss Jeckel and Little Miss Hyde.  They are the same person, but act very differently.  And I love them both. 

Thank you so much for reading this post!!  I hope you will also consider buying my newly-released book. The reviews have been very positive and you can even download the first chapter on your Kindle for free! Please visit Amazon to read all the reviews and find out more.  Thanks so much to everyone who has already bought the book.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!!   

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  1. Great post little D has a dark side as well!!, lol

  2. Yep I call mine Sybil because she has so many personalities. The whiny one is the one that bugs me the most but when sweet one is out it makes up for whiny!

  3. I just noticed the same thing with my oldest yesterday, and finally put 2 and 2 together. So has this realization made you react any differently when your oldest is whining? Are you able to be more patient knowing that she is "competing"? I am wondering if I should try finding more opportunities to spend one-on-one time with my oldest - who is super sweet and well-behaved except when his baby sister is around! The funny thing is that when just the 3 of us are home, he's usually pretty good. But enter any other adult - even my husband - and he starts acting up.
    Good post!

    1. I have noticed the exact same thing, even with my husband!! It's like she is showing off for him, not realizing that it's the worst thing she could do! I have definitely become more tolerant once I realized this, and the main thing I have changed is to really try to laugh at her jokes and appreciate when she's being silly, as long as it's harmless and non-whiny. It does seem to help, and you're right, also spending time alone helps too. Thanks for the comment!!

  4. I SOOO agree with this. Our youngest child is a challenge. And maybe that is his true personality. :) We have often joked he really wants to be an only child. And when he is away from the hustle and bustle of life and his siblings, he is delightful. It gives me a little hope that there is more there than what I usually get to see. :)

    1. Reba, that is a great way to describe it. When they are alone they are delightful! Thanks for visiting!

  5. I saw this in startling clarity just this week with my youngest. We dropped off Big Sis at homeschool co-op and had a delightful morning despite doing a really boring task (shopping for household supplies for the month). Then we picked up Big Sis and the whining and fit-throwing started. You put it well!

    1. I know...and doesn't it make you cringe when that fighting starts up again after such a peaceful morning?!?! Aghhhh!!! :-)

  6. Great post!
    Carrie I just had a similar experience. My youngest today didn't go to kindergarten while the other one was as usual at school. He was an angel all morning. It always takes me by surpise to see how well behaved is each of my boys when we rarely stay at home alone without the other one.

    1. I know, isn't it strange how rare it is? Hubby and I joke that we need to "divide and conquer" more often!!

  7. Great post! This definitely gives me something to think about!

  8. Not more than 10 minutes ago, my husband and I were talking about a very similar situation. We just got back from vacation (with both kids), and we were talking about how our 3 year old has seemed so much less whiny, and we have both been yelling less. We had so much time for the kids on vacation, they had both of our attention, and we had no schedules. Once we got back, I realized I should say yes more and yell a lot less. It's kept the kids happy so far! Thanks for this post... it's nice to know other people are going through the same thing.

  9. I read an article once that said when your child is whining or acting up to just hug them. It works! Sometimes we get caught up with life and forget that they are still so young and precious. This is particularly true when they are driving us crazy!

  10. this is a really interesting post. My son is an only child but it is very true that his behaviour is a direct reflection of the pressures of the day. Your post made me reflect a lot. Thanks. I love for you to consider linking it to the next Sunday Parenting Party at