At ages three and four, my children get along 85% of the time. I’m amazed by the small kindnesses they pay each other. Will, ever the charmer, regularly tells his sister how beautiful she looks. I have also spotted Lauren helping her brother remove his jacket, or offering him a toy that’s out of reach. During moments like these, I’m proud of my duo. I actually feel as though I must be doing something right.
Still, they do fight and tease each other during play. The insults range from, “You’re a Bad Hat,” a name inspired by the book, Madeline, or “You’re a baby.” When the teasing happens, they argue until someone ends up crying and running to me for help. “Mom, Sissy called me a baby! Tell her I am not a baby!”
Usually, I make the Instigator apologize to the Teased and if that doesn’t work, the Instigator gets a time out. Though lately I’ve been hoping the two will find a way to resolve their own conflicts. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but I figure, they’re going to get teased outside of the house eventually, and I want them to be ready. So, I bestowed upon them some advice: when someone teases, tell that person, “I don’t agree with you.”
Most of the time, my crazy ideas don’t pan out, but in this case, the “I don’t agree with you line” works wonders. And it makes me laugh when I hear Lauren or Will use this method, although sometimes they need reminding:
Lauren: You are a baby.
Will: No, I’m not.
Lauren: Yes you are!
Me: (While folding laundry in the next room) Will, what do you say when someone’s teasing you?
Will: Sissy, I don’t agree with you.
And then… glorious silence! My guess is that kids, upon hearing this declaration, don’t know what to say. With all power defused, the Instigator can no longer continue the argument. Then play time, laundry folding and all other household matters can go on peacefully.