Dealing With Sibling Rivalry in Young Children
Siblings have special relationships full of passion and emotion. You've got two boys who are communicating through their physical actions, and this communication is key. Even toddlers are not too young to understand that actions convey meaning and bring consequences. They may, however, be too young to possess the vocabulary that could help smooth over some of the rough spots with older siblings.
Older siblings have no choice but to adjust to a younger sibling, but this isn't always a simple feat. Imagine how you would feel if someone was constantly following you around and playing with your possessions, or even worse, inadvertently destroying them! The name-calling and hitting may simply be by-products of frustration that is felt equally, yet differently, by both children.
You can help by intervening and telling your children, "Hands are not for hitting." Initially, you may need to assist them in taking turns with toys and offering other options to redirect their attention. If you notice that these struggles tend to occur at certain times of the day, be sure that your children have had a nap or a snack, accordingly.
Some children respond well to sticker charts or other rewards. You can tell your boys that if they go an entire day without hitting or name-calling, they will get a sticker on a chart you create together. At the end of a week, if they've received seven stickers, they have earned a special reward—one of their choosing. Along the way, praise the positive behavior you see, telling your boys, "I like the way you took turns with that toy. It looks like you are really working on ways to share." Your responses will be rewards in themselves, and will model language that your boys can use when you are not around.