Saturday, January 9, 2010

guest blogger: Jessica Vitalis of "Stop Pinching Your Sister!"

When Jessica Vitalis put her Columbia MBA on the back burner to stay home with her two daughters, she learned a lot more than her prestigious education had provided. She shares her hilarious anecdotes and practical advice with us all on her blog, Stop Pinching Your Sister (Practical Parenting Advice Based on my Columbia MBA), and offers us all a taste on kidandcaboodle. Her two tips for handling sibling rivalry, shown here, give hope to those of us parents who only have a BA from a state school. Enjoy!

SR #1: My daughter pinched her older sister.
Solution: Tell the older sister to pinch her back. If that doesn’t work, sit on your younger daughter while your older daughter administers a wet willy. Relax, only I’m kidding! In reality, you have a range of options. You can let your younger daughter off with a verbal warning, give her a time out, or revoke a privilege. But if your younger daughter is anything like mine, these methods aren’t going to prove particularly effective. To understand how to best remedy this behavior, it is important to look at the underlying motivations. In my opinion, younger children generally pinch for one of two reasons. One, the older child did something that really ticked them off, or two, they are seeking attention. As backwards as it might sound, young children’s brains are stimulated by attention, and they aren’t particularly discriminating in terms of negative or positive attention. Back to the pinching. The next time your younger child pinches the older sibling, ignore the younger child completely. Rush up to the older child and coddle her extensively, making a show of cooing over her wound, hugging her, and talking about how sad she must feel. This serves two purposes. One, it serves as an indirect method to build empathy in your younger child (younger children don’t always think about how their actions affect other people). Two, it takes the wind out of their sails. Their plan backfired. THEY were the ones who were supposed to be getting the attention, NOT big sister.

SR #2: My older daughter won’t let my younger daughter in her bedroom
Solution: Take the door off. You laugh, but I’m only half-kidding. No doors = no barriers to entry. Doors are, after all, a privilege, not a right. Seem a little too drastic? How about taking the opposite tactic – have them share a bedroom. When my five-year-old started refusing to let her two-year-old sister into her bedroom (on the grounds that she didn’t want her little sister touching her “stuff”), I suggested they start sleeping in one room and using the second for a “play” room. With visions of late-night play dates undoubtedly dancing in their heads, they both gleefully agreed. The situation worked out much better than I could have ever hoped for. The day after their first joint sleeping adventure, I saw my two-year-old run into the sleeping room and grab her big sister’s music box, an event that would have started WWIII just a few days prior. Much to my amazement, my five-year-old walked up to her and said, “That’s O.K., there is no more ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ not – there is just ‘ours!’"

Read more tips from Jessica Vitalis on

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! I am loving reading your stories. SR #2 made me laugh because my dad used to take down our doors if we used offensive language or bad behavior. My rebellious self decided I needed privacy and since I no longer had a door for 2 days...I slept in my SMALL closet and shut the sliding door. I remember being so uncomfortable and hardly sleeping but felt it was worth it seeing my dad's shocked face the next morning when I was still inside! I just hope whenever I have kids they aren't as devious... I was quite the handful!!