Here's a way to prevent this verbal abuse and the deep injuries it can cause.
Words that siblings use with each other on daily basis can hurt. Initially used in a context of passing rivalry, name calling can turn into a regular habit for venting aggression and jealousy. The constant succession of “you’re so dumb,” “you’re ugly” and “you stink” are like slaps that end up undermining confidence and straining relationships. Sometimes, siblings can be cruel to each other, but more importantly, kids don’t realize what they’re playing with.
There are no winners in these daily conflicts. It’s impossible to identify the culprit, since roles are constantly reversed. The only constant in these very dangerous games is that there’s always someone who gets more seriously hurt due to sensitivity or age. When these conflicts become a habit, they can permanently scar relationships.
Because constant squabbling always leads to damage, it’s important for you to step in and to say that enough is enough. To change the situation, you need to put your foot down and address your kids using persuasive language apt to modify their behavior.
Recognizing good qualities of the other
Have a one on one conversation with the instigator, who may also be a victim. Make suggestions for how to elevate the conversation and be more considerate. Everyone can agree that these wars of words are exhausting; bombarding each other with insults can only offer temporary satisfaction. Some who are constantly called names may become persuaded that there is something to it, so it’s vital to tell them over and over again: “No, you’re not dumb, you don’t stink, and you’re not ugly!”
It’s also important to ask each child to say a few good things about their rival/nemesis. Then it’s up to you as a parent to tell each child good things about them. To reassure them of their good qualities and talents is to offer them encouragement. All you need to do is remind them that no one grows up to be the same. It’s an exercise to be repeated with your kids on daily basis.
Vincent de Mello
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