Sometimes life with three children gets hectic. Milk is spilled and messes are made. Feelings get hurt and keeping the peace is all but impossible.
One day recently, my toddler and her older brother were arguing over a toy: She wanted to play this way and he wanted to play that way. When tempers flared and a tug-of-war ensued, I intervened, frustrated after a long day of similar sibling squabbles.
Why can’t you two just play together? I pleaded, desperate for some time to myself.
We are playing, my 3-year-old told me. Sometimes we just fight.
I considered the conversation I’d had with my husband earlier that day: He wanted to approach an issue this way and I’d thought that way was better. Or the other day, when I was sure my way was right and his way was wrong. In my mind I went through the countless examples of arguments and disagreements, some big and some small, but at the end of the day, everything worked out.
I thought of my daughter’s words: Sometimes we just fight.
As a parent, I often get my role confused. My job is not to keep the peace. Conflict is a part of life, and it’s not always such a bad thing. Conflict is a means to an end. It teaches us lessons and makes us better at listening and expressing our feelings.
In life, sometimes we do “just fight.” It’s the getting through to the other side— the resolution— that really matters.
Siblings are each others’ first friends, and as parents, we’re our children’s first teachers. Starting in the toddler years, we should work on accepting that sibling squabbles are inevitable, and give our children the skills they need to work things out on their own.
This was a simple lesson my toddler taught me, and one I think we could all stand to be reminded of.
What wisdom has your little one taught you lately? Share it in the comments!