“Love And Anger: The Parental Dilemma” Chapter Four “Kids Versus Kids”

This is a really interesting chapter that covers dealing with both sibling rivalry and peer relationships between children.  There are many great practical ideas on this chapter, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it!

The sections in this chapter are:  Why Siblings Fight, The Myth of Loving Siblings, Children Hurting Children, The Fairness Trap, Trouble With Peers, and Compassionate Intervention.

Regarding sibling behavior, the author writes:  “The reality of sibling behavior is in direct opposition to all of our fantasies about having a “happy” family – one that is peaceful and harmonious.  In spite of what we may have experienced in our own childhoods, we cling to a vision (established by television sitcoms like “Leave It To Beaver”) of loving children who are kind to each other and rarely fight.  When our children don’t fit the ideal, we blame them for creating negative friction in what we believe should be a conflict-free household. Parents are eager to learn the skills that will end the battles, but before they can learn skills, they must first revise their expectations…..It’s useful to remember that children can’t help feeling as they do, and many well-intentioned parents try to minimize or deny a child’s feelings because they hear them as cruel or unloving. ….Parents need to accept the feelings of jealousy, resentment, or anger that a sibling might have, while setting limits on hurtful actions.”

The authors go on to discuss when to intervene and when to not intervene, when an older child hurts a younger sibling, tattling, and fairness.

The sections regarding peers starts with this statement:  “Rivalry exists, not only among siblings, but among groups of children as well.” The peer sections talk about allowing your child to vent their feelings without getting too involved in the situation or making the child feel the exclusion is his or her fault.

Sometimes I think this can be the hardest job as a parent:  to really see one’s child struggling socially either in making friends, in being too aggressive or bossy with friends, in being timid or shy or so sensitive that every little social interaction that doesn’t go quite to the child’s plan seems to bother him or her.  I think this chapter does do a good job in reminding parents to be that more neutral sounding board and to step back and let their child’s relationship with other children unfold.  Again, though, I think this is much more pertinent to older children and not to children under the age of 7 and perhaps not even as pertinent to those under the age of 9.

So again, I found much of this chapter, aside from perhaps the section on dealing with a new baby in the house, to be geared toward children ages 7 and up who are dealing these social challenges with siblings and peers as a more separate individual.  

What did you all think about this chapter?

Love to all,


7 thoughts on ““Love And Anger: The Parental Dilemma” Chapter Four “Kids Versus Kids”

  1. Hello Carrie
    I think the author was very practical in her approach. I do get mad when kids fight, but when I made the list of things me and my brother used to call each other, and when i acknowledged that feelings of rivalry went away only couples of years ago when we got married and settled, I remind myself not to be too hard on my kids. They do not want to be loved the same, as the author said, but want to be loved the best. i still believe a parent should be the authority, however, am still struggling with this. any tips or suggestions will be appreciated.

  2. Der Carrie

    Unfortunately I cant read the book, because it’s not available in Hungary, so I only read your summary and comments.
    But I do agree that it’s a great mistake if we push our children to always love each other. My mother-in-law did quite so,therefore my husband often intervenes and punishes the boys if they fight.
    But now we are facing a new problem and maybe you have some good advice.
    My third son was born nearly 2 months ago and my 3 year-old is just very jealous and sometimes he hurts or he tries to hurt the baby. He is pressing hard his hands or his little head.
    And I just dont know how to handle this without being harsh.

    Thank you in advance.
    Love, sara

  3. To me what really stood out in this chapter is to let the child have their feelings and to let them work some things out themselves. I think I too often try to convince them that they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. No, you don’t hate your sister. But, maybe in that second they do. What do you think about that? Is it OK to say, “you don’t hate her, you are just mad at her”…?? Maybe teach them to say: “I don’t like the way you are acting right now” instead of: ” I don’t like you and I don’t want you to be my sister”. For example, when the mom tells the siblings: “There will be no name calling” I get that, not getting involved in the issue, not taking sides, letting them be mad, that I understand. But, there must be some boundaries not to be crossed.

    If I had a dime for everytime I said: “Be nice” Ugh. The book confirmed what I really already knew… That is a meaningless command. Ha!

    I also like the suggestion of making them be separate for a few minutes. Then, they can’t wait to get back together.

    • HI Stephanie – Absolutely. I would NEVER say to a child “Oh, you don’t feel that way! You don’t mean that” Of course they mean that in the moment. But I would say, depending on the age of the child, “You don’t like it when Sister M is doing X” or some other phrase depending on what the situation is (Sorry to be so vague, but the response reallly hinges what is going on). If everyone is fighting, I figure they need me to take the lead in having them do work, to separate them, or they need more exercise.
      Many blessings, great observations


  4. Hi Carrie. It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I’m still here, reading! 🙂 I recently found a good tool for dealing with difficult children and with anger in parenting. It’s the Compassion Response Meditation by Kim John Payne. Do you know about it? Kim claims it helps parents change their patterns of reactions and behavior and how they see their children. I’ve been working with it daily and I think it will be really helpful as I work with it daily over time. I like to pass on good things to you since you always pass on good things to us. Blessings, Elizabeth

  5. One thing I learned is that kids often ask for attention in negative ways. When I respond to what my son is doing (a behavior that I don’t want to encourage), my response needs to indicate that somehow, without bringing emotion. I picked up a book on non-violent communication and am working on the first principle, which is simply observing the situation. This seems effective in my own relationship w/ my husband too. If I say, “I understand you feel ——. I can see how you would feel that way.” They are often much happier than if I try to solve the problem.
    The good thing about this solution is that you don’t need to relearn a lot of verbage, and just saying that you understand makes you feel better too!

    I did try the phrase “I’m sure you two can work it out together” for a tattling neighbor and she stopped whining immediately. Stunned by my lack of response, I’m sure. But she didn’t tattle again in that play session, about which I was delighted.

    Thanks again, Carrie, for turning me on to this book!

  6. hello, i am new to reading your blog and so far loving it very much! it is gently guiding me back into matching my behavior to my beliefs, it feels nice, just got a little off my path.

    i have not read this book, but i am reading all the posts and am enjoying them immensely

    re: sibling fighting. i have a 5 year old and a 3 year old (and a one year old, but she doesn’t fight lol) and at this young age i try to facilitate a mending conversation.

    for instance ” E just hit me! and it really hurts!” so I ask F to tell him how she feels, usually, that hurt my feelings, and then he responds maybe saying he was angry, or i am sorry or something very concise. it gives them closure, and they are able to move on.

    the reason i do this is when i was younger i was the youngest, and we were told to solve our own problems, which usually meant i was taken advantage of. i have always said that i wanted to help advocate for my children at small ages so they don’t have to feel the same way i did. my hope is that when they are 9 and 11 they CAN solve their own problems. i just wanted to share 😀


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