Serena asks: I and my younger brother always have petty fights. What do I do about it?
Hi Serena –
I don’t know how old you and your brother are, or whether these are physical fights or just arguments. But either way, there’s a basic truth, which is Sibling Rivalry. Siblings argue and fight, and that’s been true throughout history, and for puppies as well as humans. The important thing is to be able to move past it as well and as smoothly as possible.
That’s very hard, I know. Even though you’re older (and I assume, bigger), both of you have instincts that are hard to beat. But here are some ways to gain some power, so that at least he won’t start these fights so often:
1) Ignore him when he wants to fight! He wants your attention, and if you give it to him when he’s nice, but ignore him when he’s feisty, he’ll be disappointed, and try to get your attention in other ways.
2) Bribe him! Tell him that, if he treats you nicely for a day, you’ll do something nice for him – like letting him play with a game you have that he normally can’t, or helping him with something.
3) Distract him! When you think he’ll want to start a fight, pull out a game or a toy, or (if you’re allowed) turn on the TV or computer. Get him thinking about something other than fighting you!
4) Find a creative way to argue. Instead of having petty fights, pretend you’re both running for political office, and have a debate. Or play a board game and say that whoever wins gets their way – regardless of who’s right. Just the fun of doing this will change the energy of your relationship, and reduce the number of fights.
5) And last but not least, of course: Tell! Tell your parent or babysitter or whoever’s there. It’s no fun to be a tattletale, I know, but it’s also no fun to be told on, so if you do it enough times, you’ll take the fun out of the fighting for him.
But Serena, I have to warn you. All these ideas are good, but they do require a lot of repetitive work (none of them will solve your problem the first time), and they won’t last. The only thing that’s going to completely solve your problem is the two of you getting more mature. I was a nightmare for Handsome, especially for the first year of my life. I bit, scratched, tore, broke – so many things, including him. His ankles were always cut up. But he patiently worked with me, and by the time I was two or so, I was pretty perfect in his eyes – the constant war had ended!
So look at your own maturity. Think of how much more grownup you are than you were when you were his age. That much time from now, your brother will be as old as you are.
But till then, all those bits of advice I gave you – use them! Because however long it is, it can seem a very long time – even in people years!