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Sibling rivalry

Bad news for those who think we can build a society of tolerance, love, equality and mutual respect. We're not built for it. Until the end of time, humans will always seek to dominate and impose their will on others. Sorry.

I came to this shocking and unique observation by watching my kids. They've moved from being primitive creatures of instinct -- seeking food, attention and stimulation -- to being more sophisticated creatures of instinct. Now that they're more socialized, they're concerned with things that are pretty intangible, but nonetheless drive our civilization.

Talia started playing the game of domination. She loves her train game and adapted it for play when there was no chairs around. She would grab Max from behind to make a 'train' and shout, "Choo Choo!" to try to get him started. Max hated it. He doesn't like being immobilized and would scream when Talia grabbed him. She took note of this and started doing it solely to demonstrate her power over him. It got to the point where she could simply lean over and whisper, "choo choo" in his ear and he would start bawling.

After a while the 'choo choo' strategy started losing its effect. Max regained his composure and developed his own counter to Talia's tactics. He would... Roar! Max started taking on the aspects of various animals. He would be a lion, a 'scary monkey', or his current favourite, a jaguar. They're all the same from Max's point of view; he raises his hands above his head and shouts, "RRRROOOAAARRR!!!" as loud as he can.

The tables were turned. Talia fled in terror at the animals, and Max was in now firmly in charge. Whenever conflict arose, he raised his arms and shouted and Talia gave way.

But Talia didn't give up. In the past couple of weeks she's introduced a new strategy to reaffirm her primacy in this household: scratching, pinching, and hitting. And it's very effective. Even though Max is much bigger than her, he's been very intimidated by her assaults. What's contributed to Talia's success is that she doesn't just show Max who's boss when she wants something, she works to keep a permanent low level of fear in him. She does this by reaching out at random moments and giving him a good pinch or scratch. By doing this she's saying, I'm the Boss, don't you forget it.

And that's the way the situation stands right now. We try to police these behaviors but it's not very effective. Talia chooses her moments perfectly. I wonder what Max will come up with to counter her?

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Comments

Fascinating. I intend to use some of Talia's strategies at work.

Having kids certainly does blow some lofty theories out of the water. Trucks, anyone?

That is great stuff.

I'm detecting the beginnings of a response by Max. Pinches are being met with mighty pushes that send Talia flying. It's not over yet.

What happens next will depend on which kid is older, and by how much.

If they're real close in age, you might see activity competition. Pick an activity for both of them to do, and they'll try to outdo themselves to see who's the best. I.e. Who's the better tin flute player, artist, singer, hockey player, etc.

One thing to remember: do NOT, repeat NOT, enrol both kids in the same activity under the theory that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

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