Goddesses Confront – Sibling Rivalry Part 1

20 01 2013

The issue was a plastic drinking glass; the situation was breakfast and who would get to use the glass. Right off the bat the exchange was heated, with both girls placing their territorial stakes on the said glass. As each girl became more anchored into her respective “I’m right – you’re wrong” my concern over missing the school bus was steadily increasing. As a result I was quite motivated to end the squabble and regain peace and harmony, ASAP. It did cross my mind to just remove the evil glass from existence forever, which would make me the archenemy in the situation and solicit the wrath of both girls for days to come. My next flawed idea was to bribe the girls with a brand new glass as soon as I could make it to the dollar store.

Once I finally got passed my own habitual filters and paused long enough to take a breath, I managed to give way to what I knew with absolute certainty – these eruptions are never about what’s going on at the surface. So I really started to listen to the dialogue:

• It’s mine!
• You weren’t using it!
• You always take my stuff without asking me!
• You never share!
• Get your own!
• You’re so mean – I can’t believe it!
• Why do you say I’m mean, you always hurt my feelings!

In the midst of the generalizations, and blame I could hear the hurt, anger and fear from both girls. I knew there was an opportunity in this moment to get both girls to recognize what was going on within themselves and each other if I could redirect the attention from the object in question (blue plastic glass) and coach them around the emotions at play.

So with all the patience I could muster, here’s how it went down:

1. I acknowledged the girls’ feelings, and they became more open to listening to me.
2. I asked each of girls in turn to use their own words to share with their sister what they were experiencing.
3. I asked each to paraphrase what they had understood from what their sister had said and gave them each an opportunity to further clarify until they felt that the other “got it”.
4. Once both girls felt heard, I asked each to share what they would propose as a win-win solution using their ideas not mine.
5. Finally, I encouraged them to come up with as many ideas as possible until they were both satisfied.

Sounds like a lengthy process? To be honest it took me longer to get a grip on myself than what it took the girls to come up with some mutually acceptable solutions to their confrontation. We actually made it to the bus on time, I felt good about how the situation unfolded and the glass in question is still used from time to time without any drama! Lesson learned: we are Goddesses in the making!

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