A family is like a sports team playing the game of life together. In a team, not all the players get along… but that isn’t a green card to be mean to other team members. The Parents’ job as the Team Captain is to model good sportsmanship, teach skills and intervene when necessary. If one of the players fouls a teammate or refuses to follow the rules, your role is to reprimand that player. You can’t trade him to another team, no matter how much you may want to at the moment – and unfortunately it will be absurd for The Captain to hide out in the locker room until the game is over. Even though at times we need to be able to laugh at what feels like the absurdity of parenting, we are interested in justice as parents – but we’ll take the pain whenever it comes simply because the family is a game in which we are players.
All kids have some difficulty tolerating frustration, particularly kids with Opposition Defiant Disorder. These children will fight to gain control in any situation. The idea of giving in to another child – especially to a sibling – is unheard of in their minds.
Opposition Defiant kids often deliberately annoy or aggravate others – sometimes because they are bored, feeling spiteful or feeling miserable themselves. They have difficulty accepting responsibility and tend to blame others for conflicts. This frustrates not only us as parents, but other children in the home as well. They can start to resent the child, who they view as creating chaos and problems for others. It can leave the other kids in the family feeling hurt and angry. In these cases you have things getting heated on both ends of the sibling rivalry: one child not willing to give up control or take responsibility and the other child who views him as a disruption to the family unit.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Walking away from a situation where your brother or sister is starting to get upset is one way of stopping a conflict before it begins. Help your kids identify situations where it’s best to stop it before it even starts.