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Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

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Already best-selling authors with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish turned their minds to the battle of the siblings. Parents themselves, they were determined to figure out how to help their children get along. The result was Siblings Without Rivalry. This wise, groundbreaking book gives parents the practical tools they need to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special relationship. With humor and understanding—much gained from raising their own children—Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide suggestions on how to help children channel their hostility into creative outlets, and demonstrate how to treat children unequally and still be fair. Updated to incorporate fresh thoughts after years of conducting workshops for parents and professionals, this edition also includes a new afterword.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1972

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About the author

Adele Faber

59 books264 followers
Adele Faber graduated from Queens College with a B.A. in theater and drama, earned her master's degree in education from New York University, and taught in the New York City high schools for eight years before joining the faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York and Family Life Institute of C.W. Post College of Long Island University. She is the mother of three children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,276 reviews
2 reviews7 followers
February 23, 2009
Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

I am going to record my notes, so I have a place to keep them.
- When siblings complaining, just try and repeat back what they are saying (helps them understand and validate feelings)
- If younger child gets pushed down accidentally, say, "Oh know you didn't want that to happen, you were having so much fun together (reminds of good relationship)
- Write signs on kids to remind the older sibling. (ex. "When I scream, it means I'm not having fun.)
- Main rule for fighting is STAY OUT OF IT. But if you have to intervene:
1) Acknowledge anger for each side
2) Then listen to them further explain why they are angry
3)Appreciate their both sides
4) Express faith in their ability to work it out (a "fair" solition)
5) Walk away

- Treat kids unigquly, not equally.
:( I love you the same/ :) I love you because you are you
:( Give equal amounts of food/ :) Do you want a little or a lot
:( Make sure time is equal/ :) "I know I am spending a lot of time with your sister because it is important to her. When I am done, I want to hear what is important to you."

- When kids name calling or hitting:
- “You sound mad, but I expect you to confront your brother without using names, or hitting.
- Rather than hitting him, go his this pillow, or show me on this dall, or draw a picture.
- Insisting on good feelings between children leads to bad feelings. Allowing bad feelings between children lead to good feelings.
April 12, 2013
An easy to read book that is filled with valuable practical advice from workshops. Sometimes it sounds as if the prescriptions are too obvious and easy. However they are hard to implement consistently and correct previous behavioral habits.

Can't talk about the implementation yet but the book is easy too read, illustrated with fun cartoons and is consistently praised by parents.

As an only child who now has a son and a daughter I found it interesting to understand more about siblings relationships and how to try to be a good parent for both.

The book is written to be followed like a parenting workshop.

Child: I’m gonna kill him! He took my new skates.
With words that identify the feeling “You sound furious!”
or With wishes “You wish he’d ask before using your things.”
or With symbolic or creative activity “How would you feel about making a ‘Private Property’ sign and hanging it on your closet door?”

“Hold it! People are not for hurting!”

“Tell him with words how angry you are. Tell him, ‘I don’t want my skates used without my permission!’”

Instead of comparing one child unfavorably to another, (“Why can’t you hang up your clothes like your brother?”) speak to the child only about the behavior that displeases you.
Describe what you see “I see a brand new jacket on the floor.”
or Describe what you feel “That bothers me.”
or Describe what needs to be done “This jacket belongs in the closet.”
Instead of comparing one child favorably to another. (“You’re so much neater than your brother”) speak only about the behavior that pleases you. Describe what you see “I see you hung up your jacket.”
or Describe what you feel “I appreciate that. I like seeing our hallway looking neat.”

Instead of giving equal amounts “Here, now you have just as many grapes as your sister.” Give according to individual need “Do you want a few grapes, or a big bunch?”
Instead of showing equal love “I love you the same as your sister.” Show the child he or she is loved uniquely “You are the only ‘you’ in the whole wide world. No one could ever take your place.”
Instead of giving equal time “After I’ve spent ten minutes with your sister, I’ll spend ten minutes with you.” Give time according to need “I know I’m spending a lot of time going over your sister’s composition. It’s important to her. As soon as I’m finished, I want to hear what’s important to you.”

Not his parents Instead of: Johnny, did you hide your brother’s ball? Why are you always so mean? Parent: Your brother wants his ball back.
Not the child himself Johnny: I know I’m mean. Parent: You’re also capable of being kind.
Not his brothers or sisters Sister: Johnny, you’re mean! Daddy, he won’t lend me his scotch tape. Parent: Try asking him differently. You may be surprised at how generous he can be.
If Johnny Attacks his Brother, Attend to the Brother Without Attacking Johnny Parent: That must hurt. Let me rub it. Johnny needs to learn how to express his feelings with words, not fists!

They do need: Acceptance of their frustration: “This isn’t easy. It can be frustrating.”
Appreciation for what they have accomplished, however imperfect: “You got a lot closer that time.”
Help in focusing on solutions: “This is tough. What do you do in a case like this?”


Level I: Normal Bickering.
1. Ignore it. Think about your next vacation.
2. Tell yourself the children are having an important experience in conflict resolution.

Level II: Situation Heating up. Adult Intervention Might Be Helpful
1. Acknowledge their anger. “You two sound mad at each other!”
2. Reflect each child’s point of view. “So Sara, you want to keep on holding the puppy, because he’s just settled down in your arms. And you Billy, feel you’re entitled to a turn too.”
3. Describe the problem with respect. “That’s a tough one: Two children and only one puppy.”
4. Express confidence in the children’s ability to find their own solution. “I have confidence that you two can work out a solution that’s fair to each of you . . . and fair to the puppy.”
5. Leave the room.

Level III: Situation Possibly Dangerous.
1. Inquire: “Is this a play fight or a real fight?” (Play fights are permitted. Real fights are not.)
2. Let the children know: “Play fighting by mutual consent only.” (If it’s not fun for both, it’s got to stop.)
3. Respect your feelings: “You may be playing, but it’s too rough for me. You need to find another activity.”

Level IV: Situation Definitely Dangerous! Adult Intervention Necessary.
1. Describe what you see. “I see two very angry children who are about to hurt each other.”
2. Separate the children. “It’s not safe to be together. We must have a cooling-off period. Quick, you to your room, and you to yours!”

1. Call a meeting of the antagonists. Explain the purpose and the ground rules.
2. Write down each child’s feelings and concerns, and read them aloud.
3. Allow time for rebuttal.
4. Invite everyone to come up with solutions. Write down all ideas without evaluating.
5. Decide upon the solutions you all can live with.
6. Follow-up.

Jimmy: Daddy, I can’t finish my map for school. Make her give me the crayons! Amy: No. I have to color my flower.
1. State each child’s case. “Let me get this straight. Jimmy, you need the crayons to finish your homework. And Amy, you want to finish coloring.”
2. State the value or rule. “Homework assignments get top priority.”
3. Leave the doorway open for the possibility of negotiation. “But Jimmy, if you want to work something out with your sister, that’s up to you.”
4. Leave.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
152 reviews6 followers
November 12, 2010
Eh, it was okay. I know I said I liked it, but it's really because it did what it promised to do - gave me a few things to try in my home to help my children get along better with each other. Not trying to treat kids equally, spending quality time with each, helping them problems solve... good information, crappy format and perspective.

The writing was literally painful for two reasons. First, the "discussion" format got old after about page 3, and second I take serious issue with the analogy of my having more than one child as analogous to my husband taking more than one wife. I know those gripes basically cover the entire backbone of the book, but here's my thing: I refuse to belive kids are just innately at each other's throats and that life is just that hard for them because they have a sibling. I'm sorry, but I don't feel guilty for having four children and I'd prefer a perspective that helps kids feel grateful to be part of a wonderful family instead of one that has parents trying to figure out how to compensate for the sorrow that is another child.
Profile Image for Vonette.
74 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2010
There is some helpful info here, and it reads quickly. But the writing style got on my nerves after about 3 chapters! It's written in a pseudo-narrative format including dialogue, told from the point of view of the leader of a group of parents who are learning how to help their children get along. The dialogue sounds canned and repetitive. The note at the beginning makes it clear that the whole narrative is fictionalized -- based on true experiences of real parents but after awhile it all starts to feel canned.

Though I found the book helpful in many ways, it is clearly a product of its 1980's origins. The idea that negative emotions can be effectively dealt with by "taking out your anger on a pillow" for example. It's a bit simplistic. Still, there is good advice mixed in there. This book could offer some help to any parent who has more than one child.
Profile Image for Ricki.
579 reviews10 followers
February 28, 2016
I didn't feel that there was much new material here that wasn't already in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Some of it kinda felt like a no-brainer.

There is also one definite problem. I was reading an older copy and maybe this is fixed in newer editions, but this book advises the reader to ask their child to show their aggression to a surrogate object (such as by punching a doll in lieu of a sibling). Supposedly, this enables the parent to show the child that they accept the child's feelings, but not their actions of violence toward a real person. However, psychology studies have proved by now that letting out anger by venting or punching a pillow does not actually diminish or dissipate aggression and anger, but rather strengthens those feelings and draws them out longer. Therefore, on this topic, the book is completely wrong. Instead, we need to teach our kids calming-down skills.
394 reviews80 followers
November 1, 2021
کتاب خیلی کاربردی که نه فقط برای صلح برقرار کردن بین برادرها و خواهرها، بلکه برای هرکسی که فرزند داره، میتونه مفید باشه.
کتاب شرح یه سری جلسۀ گروهیه با حضور والدین که با مدیریت نویسندۀ کتاب و با هدف درمان مشکلات مربوط به فرزندپروری - با تمرکز بر مشکلات
و خواهرها و برادرها - برگزار میشه. والدین از شرح مشکلات فرزندانشون میرسن به یادآوری کودکی های خودشون و میبینیم که چقدر والد بودن کار سختیه و چقدر کودک موجود حساسیه و چقدر کوچکترین اعمال و اشارات و رفتارها، میتونه تأثیرهای عمیق و پر رنگی بر زندگی کودک بگذاره.
اگه بخوام خیلی خیلی خیلی چکیده کنم، حرف کلی کتاب اینه:

احساس کودک رو - از طریق بیان اون حس در قالب کلمات - به رسمیت بشناسید و اونو انکار نکنید.
تا جای ممکن در تنشهای بین کودکان خودتون رو دخیل نکنید و اجازه بدید که اونها خودشون به راه حل برسن.
در موارد جدی و بحرانی دخالت حداقلی کنید و با ارائۀ راه حل پیشنهادی، سعی کنید تنش رو رفع ک��ید.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
367 reviews
October 5, 2011
September 28, 2011

At the rate we're going, some of us won't make it out alive. It could be me. It could be one of the girls. Or both of them! Or all three of us! Desperate times. Hoping for a miracle here.

October 4, 2011

I don't know how many stars to give this book, because I haven't fully put it to the test yet. Four for now. I've tried a few little changes and they've actually helped tremendously!!! But I'm trying to not get too excited. I'll come back and update in a month or so. This is the kind of book I have to read through once, then go back and go chapter by chapter, adding changes a little at a time. At this point, I'm impressed and I can absolutely see how a few changes will make a huge difference.

Favorite sections of the book:
- Siblings in Roles. Chapter 5.
- Chapter 6. Especially pages 143-144 which summarize the four levels of fighting (bickering, heating up, possibly dangerous, definitely dangerous!) and what to do in each level.
- The cartoon dad in super short shorts on pages 132-133! Awesome.
Profile Image for Lewis Manalo.
Author 8 books15 followers
May 22, 2012
This book probably isn't 100% useless, but it's pretty damn near. It takes for granted that our children have no minds of their own, and that as parents we are almost entirely responsible for who our kids grow up to be.

- The early chapters use a ridiculous polygamy metaphor to try to illustrate how children feel about siblings, depicting jealousy as the only emotion two people loved by the same person could feel for one another.

- The book offers nothing other than anecdotal evidence for the solutions and attitudes that it offers, and even most of the anecdotes aren't conclusive.

- The book fails to address the fact that people outside of the home will also interact with siblings. You don't have to be a parent to compare siblings or to favor one over the other.

Worst of all, in assuming that our children are a direct result of how we treat them the book relieves kids of any kind of responsibility for their behavior. Kids will act in ridiculous ways whether they have siblings or not, and owning up to the consequences of their actions is part of growing up.
Profile Image for Shaila.
418 reviews
June 21, 2021
A few weeks ago, I felt really desperate about my kids’ sibling relationships. There were serious problems! I read this book, and was able to immediately apply what I was learning, and I’m already seeing improvement. I feel that my mediation and approach to conflict is more effective now. I appreciated the real world anecdotes, the reasonable wisdom, and the reflection on adult sibling relationships. There were a lot of points I simply had not considered previously. I bought a copy after I listened to it, because I need these tips available to me, and I’m hoping my husband will read it too.
Profile Image for Wendy Yu.
166 reviews26 followers
August 18, 2016
Format, the cartoons (even a poem at the end!) are sooooooooo cheesy, but I can handle a retro vibe if the advice is good. The horror stories are (I hope!) too dramatic where siblings hate each other, themselves and their parents. It made me very scared to have two kids, but, oh well, too late!

1. Acknowledge negative feelings, don't dismiss them (e.g. "Bobby said I'm a moron" DON'T RESPOND WITH "oh, just ignore him" say "a comment like that could make you mad!"). Identify the feeling or talk about wishes ("you wish he'd ask you before playing with your toys") or with creativity (let's make a private property sign)

2. Resist the urge to make comparisons, good or bad -- just address the behavior directly (e.g. DON'T "why can't you hang up your clothes like your brother"). Simply describe what you see (jackets are on the floor) or describe what you feel (I don't like that) or describe what needs to be done (this jacket belongs in the closet)

3. Children don't need to be treated equally, they need to be treated uniquely. (e.g. DON'T "I love you the same" say "You're the only "you" in the whole world." DON'T "here are the same number of grapes" say "do you want a few or a lot?")

4. Don't give attention to the aggressor -- even negative attention is appealing. Attend to the injured party instead, the aggressor will feel left out.

5. Don't view children in roles (the organized one, the musical one, the smart one, the athletic one). View each child with a growth mindset.

6. Fighting: (a) minor = ignore it. (b) heated = 1. acknowledge anger; 2. reflect each child's POV; 3. describe the problem with respect; 4. express confidence in each child's ability to find solution; 5. leave. (c) dangerous = remind them that play fighting is by consent only or separate them for a cooling off period

7. If they can't work out a solution for fighting, call a meeting and write down their feelings and concerns, brainstorm ideas and decide on solution (e.g. mediation tactics)

8. How to not take sides: state each child's case, state the value or rule, leave the doorway open for negotiation, leave. (e.g. "let me see, Jimmy needs the crayon for homework, Amy wants to finish coloring. Homework gets priority. But Jimmy if you want to work something out with Amy, that's up to you.")

Random unorganized epilogue advice:
1. if kids are running around and they crash and cry. Remind them "oh no! you didn't want that to happen. you two were having so much fun" the reminder of the positive will speed up recovery time
2. praise good behavior through overhearing audible conversation b/w parents "hey [spouse], did you know that Danny taught Sam how to use a chair today?"
3. "I hear crying. Do you need help or can you work it out?"
4. Instead of playing "who can get dressed faster" set up "you guys are a team -- how fast can you guys get dressed"
5. most things are for sharing but some things are by permission only (e.g. things on a special shelf)
6. talk about how isn't it funny that "the best toys are the ones that someone else is using" then every time she wants to grab something, wink at each other and recite that line like it's an inside joke
7. make sure each child gets alone time with you several days a week. don't talk about the other child during that time.
8. don't have to do everything as a family all the time. e.g. just take one to the zoo, or split up at the zoo and meet for lunch.

Profile Image for Kaytee Cobb.
1,770 reviews331 followers
October 4, 2018
This book is absolutely going on my shelves. I wanted to highlight the whole thing, except I listened to it as an audiobook. The examples, the classroom sessions, they are so useful. I love that it's not JUST Faber and Mazlish's experience as parents, but those of their students as well. And I love that the updated edition includes additional information and letters received after the release of the book. This is a MUST for any parent that has more than one child. And I almost want to give it as a new baby gift to anyone having their second child. Because it's that good.
Profile Image for Paulina Balsevičienė.
89 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2022
Visi vaikai daugiau ar mažiau pykstasi, manau tai neišvengiama.
Knygoje daug kalbama apie tai, kaip išmokyti vaikus reikšti negatyvius jausmus, niekam nekenkiant.
Pirmiausia žalą daro mūsų įprotis lyginti vaikus. Tiek elgiantis blogai, tiek norint pagirti. Net knygos autorė pripažįsta, kad be galo sunku atsikratyti šio įpročio, bet pabandyti verta.
Kaip noras lyginti, taip ir noras duoti abiems po lygiai, gali skatinti vaikų konkurenciją. Autorė teigia, kad vaikus vertinti, jiems duoti ir juos mylėti reikia individualiai. Lygu, gali būti mažiau. Keista, bet tikros suaugusių vaikų istorijos įtikina.

Ši knyga, kaip ir kitos autorės knygos, labai patiko. Jei būčiau ją skaičiusi pirmiausia, manau ir įvertinimas būtų didesnis. Nors ir pateikta daug naudingos informacijos, situacijos ne tokios įtikinančios ir pasirodė kiek per lengvai išsprendžiamos.
Profile Image for Canan.
22 reviews3 followers
March 6, 2019
Ufukta belirmeye başlayan kardeş çatışmaları için okumaya başladım kitabı. Ancak kendi kardeş ilişkilerime de ışık tuttu.
Değerlendirmeyi uygulamanın ne kadar etkili olacağına göre ilerleyen zamanlarda yapacağım:)
Profile Image for Veronika Pizano.
724 reviews141 followers
April 18, 2020
Oproti ostatnym kniham tychto autoriek je toto v podstate taky vycuc, ale dolezite je, ze tie techniky funguju. Uz len nezabudat ich uplatnovat, ked decka idu svoje.
Profile Image for Diana.
679 reviews6 followers
July 3, 2018
This book almost made me cry (and I don't cry easily for books). Just reading/hearing the words coming out of parents mouths from the examples in the book, from parents around me, and from myself and then seeing the contrast described in the book was an indescribable experience for me.

I would wager that the vast majority of us have specific issues, big or small, because of the labeling whether implied or said outloud, from our parents. It is amazing how much trauma this causes. This is something that I was spared from, in a way, because my mother was very intentional about not comparing me with my brother. However, she also didn't know how to encourage us to be ourselves and the things she/they didn't say makes a huge difference.

It's one thing to avoid comparing, it's great in fact! However it's a completely different thing to pro-actively say things to encourage children to be who they are and to be the best at that as they can be. Many parents don't know how to do this and this book lays out fundamentals that I can try to model to the best of my ability.
Profile Image for Melanie.
264 reviews44 followers
August 31, 2018
3.5 / 5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Does it work? I don't know... perhaps if my flying monkeys had read it, the strategies would be more effective, but I'm trying to implement them so we'll see....

It reinforces all the things one learns at parenting courses about making sure your child is heard, and has their feelings acknowledged. I skipped over the last section of adults telling stories about their own childhood, and how damaged they became by their parents less-than-spectacular parenting 'cause I don't need to relive all that stuff either!

It's a little condescending at times, and the strategy of simply ignoring the bickering could force me to become an alcoholic by the time my three daughters are all teenagers, but if nothing else, I at least feel like my family's actually pretty normal, and we're doing ok.

Except for the wine consumption. Hubby's away the next couple of weekends so i may be back to edit this...wish me luck.
Profile Image for Andrea Thorpe.
120 reviews
July 20, 2011
This was a really easy read and I got a lot out of it. I think the biggest challenge for me is to stay out of my boys fights and not create a triangle. This book helped cure me of that. This topic is a work in progress! It reminded me that sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up. And, that not taking sides brings them closer together, because they don't feel that mom is giving one of them preferential treatment. This book is filled with anecdotal evidence and stories from people that are parenting through the scars left with them since their own childhoods. It was a very interesting read.
Profile Image for Katherine.
739 reviews30 followers
July 31, 2020
Again, a classic for a reason. We're doing ok on this front so far but I bought copy so we can reference it easily in the future. I...kind of think a lot of my mom's anxieties about the relationship between my sister and me would've been much improved if she'd read and tried the ideas in this book. The format of simplifying the storytelling by combining their family experiences as though it were one and going through one particular parenting class group was fine, to my surprise. There's a lot of the parents themselves reflecting on their own difficult sibling relationships which really helps drive the points home, I think.

Favorite parts:
* There's a difference between sending a child away from you and instructing her to hit her doll, and inviting a child to express her feelings through the use of her doll as you watch. A more helpful statement would be, "I can't let you hurt the baby, but you can show me what you're feeling with your doll." The key words are "show me." As the child shakes her finger at the doll, or pummels it, the parent can give words to what the child is trying to express. (p32)
* Insisting upon good feelings between the children led to bad feelings (p50)
* To be loved equally is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely--for one's own special self--is to be loved as much as we need to be loved. (p71)
* Kids need a lot of experience having good times together so that when the conflicts and fights come--as they must--they both have the memory of a positive relationship they want to get back to (p204)
* Sibling relationships are fluid, changing, constantly in process. At different periods of their lives, bothers and sisters draw apart or come together. There is now ay that we as parents can mandate a fixed, close, loving relationship between our children. However, what we can do, with skills and goodwill, is remove the usual obstacles to sibling harmony, so that when our children are ready to reach out to one another, the road is clear. (p240)

* over the years I had helped them build the bridges to span the separate islands of their identities. If they ever need to reach each other, they have many ways of getting there (p12)

On feelings:
* Instead of dismissing negative feelings about a sibling, acknowledge the feelings and put them into words (p25)
* Give children in fantasy what they don't have in reality.
* Help children channel their hostile feelings into symbolic or creative outlets.
* Stop hurtful behavior. Show how angry feelings can be discharged safely. Refrain from attacking the attacker.

* Whenever I was tempted to compare one child to another, I would say to myself, 'STOP! DON'T!' Whatever you want to tell this child can be said directly, without any reference to his brother. The key word is describe. Describe what you see. Or describe what you like. Or describe what you don't like. Or describe what needs to be done. The important thing is to stick with the issue of this one child's behavior. Nothing his brother is or isn't doing has anything to do with him. (p55)
* what can you do when one child tells you about something special she did and all the others are standing there listening? That's a tough one. We don't want to shortchange the child who is excited about her accomplishment. Yet we do want to be sensitive to the feelings of the others. You'll never go wrong if you describe what you think the child might be feeling ('You must be so proud of yourself!') or what the child has accomplished ('A lot of practice and perseverance went into winning that medal'). The trick is not to add, 'I'm so thrilled, I can't wait to tell Dad and all the neighbors.' The passion and excitement you feel about a child's achievement should be saved for a moment when just the two of you are together. It's too much for the other siblings to have to listen to. (p59)
* if they want to show each other their report cards, that's their business. What's important is that they know that Mom and Dad see them as separate individuals and are not interested in comparing their grades. (p60)

Equal is less:
* when they bellyache that you're not fair or that you 'gave her more' or 'love him better.' You can tell yourself that even though they seem to want everything the same, they don't really. (p71)
* Children don't need to be treated equally. They need to be treated uniquely. Instead of giving equal amounts, give according to individual need. Instead of showing equal love, show the child he or she is loved uniquely. Instead of giving equal time, give according to need. (p81)
* She never even asked me how I felt about her sisters. She just wanted to know how much I valued her. (p88)

Siblings in roles:
* No child should be allowed to corner the market on any area of human endeavor. We want to make ti clear to each of our children that the joys of scholarship, dance, drama, poetry, sport, are for everyone and not reserved for those who have a special aptitude. (p98)
* Don't give your attention to the aggressor, attend to the injured party instead (p101)

When kids fight:
* My loud, forceful description of what I saw them about to do stunned them and stopped them. My strong conviction that no hurting would be allowed in our home overrode their rage at each other. And in the end I saw that they were grateful to have a parent who cared enough about them to protect them from each other. (p141)
* purpose of settling their argument or making a judgment, but to open the blocked channels of communication so that they can go back to dealing with each other (p142)
* How to handle the fighting (p144)
Level 1: Normal Bickering
1. Ignore it.
2. Tell yourself the children are having an important experience in conflict resolution.
Level 2: Situation heating up, adult intervention might be helpful
1. Acknowledge their anger.
2. Reflect each child's point of view.
3. Describe the problem with respect.
4. Express confidence in the children's ability to find their own solution.
5. Leave the room.
Level 3: Situation possibly dangerous
1. Inquire: Is this a play fight or a real fight?
2. Let the children know: Play fighting by mutual consent only (has to be fun for both)
3. Respect your feelings: You may be playing, but it's too rough for me. You need to find another activity.
Level 4: Situation definitely dangerous! adult intervention necessary
1. Describe what you see.
2. Separate the children.
* When the children can't work out a problem by themselves (p158)
1. Call a meeting of the antagonists. Explain the purpose and the ground rules.
2. Write down each child's feelings and concerns, and read them aloud.
3. Allow time for rebuttal.
4. Invite everyone to come up with solutions. Write down all ideas without evaluating.
5. Decide upon the solutions you all can live with.
6. Follow-up.
* encouraging sharing without forcing it (p160)
1. By putting the children in charge of the sharing (Kids, what's the best way to share it?)
2. By pointing out the advantages of sharing.
3. By allowing time for inner process (Lucy will let you know when she's ready to share.)
4. By showing appreciation for sharing when it occurs spontaneously.
5. By modeling sharing yourself.

* The only way to break the deadlock is to take the object away from them. The trick is not to do it punitively "Okay that's it! Now neither one of you gets it," but rather by pointing them to the task that needs to be done. I say, "I'll just put this on the shelf here for safekeeping while you two work out a plan for how to share it without fighting. As soon as you're ready, let me know and I'll take it down." (p201)
* You didn't want that to happen. You two were having so much fun together. That seems to help both boys recoup much faster and remind them of their good relationship. (p205)
* I hear crying. Do you need help or can you work it out yourselves?'
* (when spending 1:1 time with one child, keep your focus on that child. Refrain from bringing up the other child) The parent means no harm. She might even feel she's encouraging the children to be thoughtful of each other. But more likely Mary will think, "Even when Debbie isn't here, she takes Mom away from me." (p232)
Profile Image for Jolène Fender.
190 reviews6 followers
June 8, 2017
I've noticed in the last few months my 3 year old acting out more towards her younger sister. It seemed to have coincided with her becoming mobile and grabbing onto toys and demanding more of my attention.

Someone from my mom group mentioned this book as being helpful identifying certain things we are doing or saying that may contribute to the sibling rivalry. So in effort to nip it on the bud... or at the very least have tools in my arsenal to tackle what's to come, I grabbed a copy.

The book reads like notes from round table discussion. Many anecdotes from parents, which were great. I wish there would have been a bit more on how to deal with the toddler/baby stage. This seems to apply more to the later years.

I've already put some things into action and, like anything, consistency is the key. It doesn't feel very natural at first but I'm hoping my husband and I can get the hang of it.

Some of my notes

- Children don't need to be treated equally. They need to be treated uniquely. Eg. Instead of showing equal love, show that he or she is loved uniquely. "You are the only 'you' in the whole wide world. No one could ever take your place" instead of "I love you both equally"

- Don't put siblings in roles. Be wary of statements like "She's the athlete in the family", etc. We want to make it clear to our children that the joys of scholarship, dance, drama, sport are for everyone and not reserved for those who have a special aptitude.

- bully and victim : our task would be two fold. Free the bully to be compassionate and free the victim to be strong.

- Fighting

1. Start by acknowledging the children's anger towards each other. That alone should help calm them down.
2. Listen to each child's side with respect.
3. Show appreciation for the difficulty of the problem.
4. Express faith in their ability to work out a mutually agreeable solution.
5. Leave the room.

- On sharing

1. Children should be encouraged to share, and for very practical reasons. Just to get along on this world, they'll need to know how to share - goods, space, themselves. And for spiritual reasons as well. We want our children to experience the pleasure and goodwill that comes from voluntarily giving. Making children share, however, only makes them clutch their possessions more tightly. Forced sharing undermines goodwill.

- Hitting is not allowed. We don't hit in this family.

- When one sibling hurts another, tend to the victim instead of giving attention to the aggressor. *** this worked on the first try. My oldest pushed her baby sister down and made her cry. I immediately went to her sister and said "oh are you ok baby, I know your sister shouldn't be pushing you down like that." I could feel my oldest watching this unfold. And within seconds she said "sorry Lena" and gave her a hug. That was it. I suspect that my oldest is craving attention, negative or positive and she normally would get a reaction out of me if she did something bad.

Overall though, the main thing I've learned is that we must stay out of it as much as possible. Acknowledge, offer support and let them sort it out.
Profile Image for Amy.
562 reviews3 followers
July 16, 2015
Another great book by Faber and Mazlish, I decided to read this after reading their other book a few years ago (How to Talk so Kids will Listen...). Now my girls are 9 and 7 years old, and although they get along nicely occasionally, there are plenty of (daily, hourly) fights, bickering, arguing over things, screaming at each other, etc. So I've been eager for a little helpful wisdom regarding sibling issues and the best way to handle it. Just like their other book, it is full of very practical tips, and the similar type of cartoon-like strips showing examples of what not to do, and what to do instead. ("Instead of this....try this")

Again they structure the book as telling you about a parenting class they're teaching, and they use the people in the class to offer discussion and examples of challenges and how to handle them. What was really interesting was how they talk about how deep sibling issues go, and how so many of us are still affected by them today. Many parents in the book gave examples of how their parents always treated their siblings different than them, or how they fought with their brother or sister so much - to the point that as an adult when they looked back, they still have very strong feelings about those years. Of course this makes a lot of sense, as the family we grew up in makes a huge difference in our lives. But it's really interesting now as a parent of children myself to look back and see how I feel when I think about myself as a kid dealing with sibling challenges. It helps to put yourself in that position and remember what it felt like.

But the main focus of the book is how to take practical steps to help your kids learn to deal with each other, and how to adjust your own parenting behaviors so that you're not making the problem worse. Some were things I already knew I shouldn't do, but have a hard time putting into practice (not comparing your kids to each other all the time, for example). But other things were examples of things we do that we think are helpful, but really might be the opposite (always praising one child for only one trait, such as "you're the smart one", "you're the creative one", etc). It gives a lot of food for thought, and I have a feeling I will want to look through it again in the future.
Profile Image for Sarah .
720 reviews33 followers
December 14, 2015
In my circles, this book is pretty well gospel for those with more than one kid. Written as a piece of narrative, instructive non-fiction, Siblings Without Rivalry discusses how to deal with your kids when they fight. The goal is to be aware of their motivations, your actions and reactions, and how to set up a house where, even if everyone is not at peace with one another, then at least everyone is respectful of each other.

Faber and Mazlish preface their work with a note that this book is an outgrowth of a larger work on general parenting topics. They also take their person experiences in parenting and parent coaching and mash them into the rough story of one person with two children, leading a parenting group. The narrative style works to keep the pace up and enliven what might otherwise be a dry and impersonal instruction manual. And each chapter and topic has a section devoted to personal story telling. That is, the fictionalized members of the parenting group all tell their own stories so that you can find someone or something to identify with.

I had a few problems with the text overall. One is that it's written according to a big reveal. That is, Faber and Mazlish use the technique whereby they tell a story, usually dramatic and heartening, and allow you to draw your own conclusions. Then they turn it on its head and act it out they way they think would best solve the problem. Then they reveal the concept behind their technique and assume that, by that time, you are so emotionally invested in the outcome that you accept it regardless of whether or not you agree with it.

And speaking of agreement, I did not come out entirely on board. I understand the purpose of describing behaviors of conflict. But there were some clashes described where I would not have been able to simply describe. Some things are right and are wrong and children must be told this. Their feelings should be honored certainly, but "my sister is stupid and I hate her" should get something a bit more authoritarian than a sympathetic nod.

Were I unfamiliar with the techniques I likely would have rated it higher. It was, however, somewhat repetitious and, as above, dramatized.
Profile Image for Sean.
660 reviews9 followers
July 8, 2016
Adele Faber is the author of the bestselling "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk". In "Siblings Without Rivalry", she shares her materials from classes that she conducts to help parents deal with siblings who fight or don't get along. She shares the basic concepts, which are fairly straightforward, along with some great stories from parents who have made use of her suggestions in their own families.

The core idea of dealing with kids who fight with each other is to reflect back to them what they are saying, helping them to verbalize their emotions. This tends to diffuse a lot of tension present in sibling conflicts. She suggests that the parent then encourage the kids to work out the conflict on their own, only stepping in if there is some danger that the kids will hurt each other.

Although simple, Faber's techniques for managing conflict between kids has proven to be highly successful. This book is a must read for any parents who have more than one child.
Profile Image for Isaac Velazquez.
43 reviews9 followers
July 8, 2020
Oh fudge here comes the water works. I was SO moved by this book. Although the goal of this book seems to be about how to better manage parenting, it made me soooo reminiscent about my younger brothers it broke my heart open and I decided to talk to my brothers again after a long time.

This book has a couple spelling and grammatical errors but as a whole it is such a refreshing read it was incredibly therapeutic and by the end I felt totally reset and restored.

Ugh my gosh I feel like such a frukkin baby for crying about this book.... I need to go do something hyper masculine like chop fire wood cursing as I do it, then throw the logs into my excessively high lifted red truck with stickers on the back windshield that display brands of beer, then on my way home I might try to street race a fiat or a smart car because “ their cars are smaller AND THEREFORE INFERIOR!!”

Seriously though this book is just a gem and everyone with a brother/sister should read it.
149 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2009
Written by the same authors of "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk." As with most of these types of books, all that they needed to say could probably be summed up in a chapter or two, but they pad it with a lot of stories. The most helpful points I found were illustrated in cartoon form. If you got the book and just read the cartoons, you'd have about 90% of the meat of the book. The strongest advice is accepting the children's feelings, even bad feelings toward one another, and letting them know that they are understood. Also, avoiding comparisons and casting the children in roles, even if they are positive roles (i.e. don't continually say to one child that they are a great artist, because all the other one hears is that he is not a great artist).

Profile Image for Sarah.
155 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2011
I know everyone seems to love this book, but it's absolutely unreadable! The writing style is a dialogue between a parent educator and a parenting group, all composites of substantial research by the author. I got extremely frustrated digging through the conversation for nuggets of helpful info.

In summary, resist comparing your children to each other, resist outright judgments (opting instead for statements of observation in each case), and try not to artificially cast your children into "roles." Helpful enough info, but difficult to extract (unless you skip to the worlds most ridiculous and obvious comic strips of how not to treat your kids!)
Profile Image for Hannah.
205 reviews23 followers
October 27, 2012
Maybe it's because I was an only child. Maybe it's because having worked at a preschool that utilized conscious thought about how you phrase things when talking to children and helping them solve disputes. Maybe it's because I'm already of the mind to acknowledge feelings but not allow for bullying. Maybe it's because I've taken a rather in-depth course on conflict resolution. Maybe it's because only one of my children has been born yet and I'm just naive. Regardless, I found myself only skimming through this book and not really able to figure out why everyone always seems to rave about it. *headscratch*
Profile Image for Lisa.
80 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2013
It is a solid book with good information but I think way too long for what it is trying to say. I got the idea of how to work toward siblings without rivalry after about 10 pages but the book is 240 pages. Much of the book is examples and discussions from their workshop. That may be helpful but when I pick up a book to help me (any self help book), I'm excited about the information- what to do and how to change. I wouldn't be offended if the book was less than 100 pages. The shorter it is, the faster I can get started on the new ways and steps to a better me/home.
Profile Image for Wren.
170 reviews3 followers
January 9, 2018
I know this won't fix every problem my kids have with each other. I know that I have to keep praying for them and help shaping their hearts with God's Word. But I like the way this book made me re-evaluate how I react when my kids squabble, and I like the suggestions and examples of how to get the kids thinking towards positive solutions they come up with themselves. I hope that I can put these ideas in to practice and enjoy some peace from time to time.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
218 reviews35.9k followers
May 2, 2014
Read this pretty soon after our second son was born. Nine years later looking at the other reviews, I realize how much of this book I incorporated into our parenting. Our two sons have a really good relationship and a lot of it can be attributed to reading this book.

Best pieces of advice: don't get sucked into their arguments! And let each child know how much he/she is loved individually.
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