Lessening The Competitive Environment In The Home

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings – their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


In my opinion, many kid problems (siblings bickering back and forth), are due to the  environment inside the home.  An environment that promotes competition, gives rewards, and  lays grounds for punishment – will only encourage children to be competitive with each other.

There are a few things that we have done, that really have led to children that love and respect each other.


The Environment inside the home


In my home, I have tried to create an environment that is more cooperative rather than competitive.  It’s based on – we all work together to get to where we are going.  I really try not to create an environment where they are competing against each other.  Our children are not inhibited by a star system or point system or any other type of system.  I don’t want their major worry to be – who is first and who is last.  Turning everything into a competition in order to motivate students/kids – does not work.  All it does is create an environment where the kids are trying to outdo each other to the top.

Unfortunately, what comes out of point systems – is that the kids learn that they cannot function without the competition.  The competition drives them  – and it becomes necessary in all aspects of their life.


Lead by Example

My husband and I have adopted a non-confrontational way of dealing with each other and our children.  It’s a system built out of love and respect.  We do not yell at each other – even if we disagree strongly.  We are never angry at each other.  We can sit down and have a discussion that is civil and respectful.  When children see this type of interaction, they then adopt it as their own.  If they see parents arguing, fighting, and competing against each other – than they will adopt that type of attitude.

It’s important for children to see that their parents respect and love each other – and in turn treat each other with respect.



I listen to what the kids say.  It’s very important.  If Ava comes up and sits on my lap and snuggles, she is telling me she needs some of my time.  So, I give it to her.  I give her my time.  Same goes with the other two.



My 3 kids

All of our children are four years apart.  This gives each one of them their time to be a baby.  Everybody has their time to ride in the stroller, and have most of the attention.  This has worked in our favor.   When the kids are four years apart, they are not playing with the same toys – so no need to fight over toys.   They are in a different place and have different interests.  I think it’s important for kids to feel that they had their time to be young, cared for, breast fed…special.

We haven’t had any problems with sibling rivalry and I feel by controlling the environment, treating the kids with respect, and proper spacing  –  has helped to maintain a calm and peaceful environment.


Do you have a problem with rivalry?   How have you or how do you plan to combat this problem?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?
About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. Bella’s cousins are like brothers, especially living so close. Lately I’ve noticed this materialistic crap with my daughter and Julian, age 6. Flaunting a new bike, etc. competing. Both of them. At first I was irritated because I know the “my (whatever) is better than yours” came from their house. We don’t compare ourselves to others or worry about what anyone else has. But then I had to take a look at myself too, and I realized I’m a materialistic person and have managed to pass that along to my daughter. I never had much as a kid, so I’m very proud of the things we’ve earned, when really I need to be thankful to God for my blessings. I’m going to be working on that. So my comment is sort of off subject for this post, but like your tips on working together rather than competing. I’ll try to find ways to incorporate that into a 2 home setting, because I would feel like a failure if my daughter or nephew determine their self worth based on comparison, or material things as adults. I’m glad I recognized it and I’m not fraid to admit I’ve set a bad example lately.
    Amy mayen recently posted…Skipper Top from Sew Much AdoMy Profile

  2. This is lovely, Lisa. I’m glad to hear of such a peaceful family. Our boys are four years apart, too. If we have our third, we’ll have much the same setup as you. I’m glad that Mikko’s at a different stage than Alrik, since it’s less directly competitive for meeting needs.

    The weird thing is, my husband and I are not competitive at all. We were both second children of four-years-older brothers so we never won at anything as kids and lost the taste early for competition. But Mikko and Alrik are always talking about winning, and they love to race each other. Ah, well, hopefully it will ease up! Or at least be something they enjoy as brothers rather than just squabble about!

    P.S. Love that picture of your kids!
    Lauren recently posted…The complex and wonderful world of siblingsMy Profile

    • Thanks for the lovely comment.

      People are complicated. As you know, there is not 1 answer. There are so many different answers. This applies to everything. Just because a book says it’s so doesn’t mean it’s so. Just because it works for one family doesn’t mean it’s going to work for the other. There are so many many many variables.

      Just some thoughts as I was reading through your comment.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Lisa recently posted…Lessening The Competitive Environment In The HomeMy Profile

  3. “I listen to what the kids say” <—- SO important!!

    Both of my kids have very distinct needs in their love languages and as long as I keep them filled up and confident in their role as my child and a sibling, we have less trouble with brawling over who has Mom's attention.
    Laura recently posted…Sibling support, even in the potty!My Profile

  4. Child spacing and how the siblings get along is so wildly different depending on family. We had our two about 4 years apart as well, and I *love* the gap. But I have seen many families who do things differently – 2 yrs apart, 3, 5, etc., and their kids get along too. Listening and respect are the biggest keys, in my opinion – if you’re modeling how to treat others with love, then surely your kids will pick up on it 🙂
    Dionna recently posted…Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship TrainingMy Profile

    • Hey there,

      I think spacing has a lot to do with the ability to attachment parent. I’m a firm believer that each child needs his/her own time with Mom and Dad. They need to be slinged, they need to catered to – 100%. I think it builds confidence that children would not otherwise build. I think this confidence is important. If you want a big family, you cannot space 4 or 5 years apart. It’s just impossible. I mean, you would be having babies for 35 years. Not really practical. However, I do think it makes a big difference. Some people are able to attachment parent when the kids are 18 months – 2 years apart. It depends upon circumstances. I would not be able to.

      Plus, My Mother came from a family of 8 – and she kind of drilled it into me. She felt like she was robbed of a childhood – being second to the oldest, she had to take care of her younger siblings. She was very bitter in adulthood and felt that it affected her negatively. Not to say that this happens in all cases, she may be very well in the minority. With that said, I didn’t want to take any chances. For our family, it worked really well.

      Listening is a big one. I don’t think parents really listen to their kids – in general.

      When parents treat each other and others well, it’s just a part of life. They don’t know any different. I think it’s a good way to grow up.
      Lisa recently posted…Lessening The Competitive Environment In The HomeMy Profile

  5. We have worked so hard to avoid competition between our children, as well. Lately, “first” has been a big theme at our house, and we’ve been working through that. Who was the “first” to get buckled in the van? Who was the “first” to get to the dinner table? And on, and on. I hear myself constantly saying, “Yes, well, it is really not a contest!”

    We follow many of the principles you set out, as well. My husband and I work together to resolve conflicts peacefully. We are respectful of one another and the children. We encourage empathy and mindfulness of others in the children. And we all work together to accomplish tasks, as much as possible. However, all of my children are spaced between 2 and 3 years apart, with very good results, also.
    Kellie recently posted…Peas in a PodMy Profile

    • Hey there,

      I think there is a lot to be said for being a good example. I think that’s the best way. It becomes more of a way of life, and less like teaching – you know?

      Of course, sometimes it works opposite. For instance, maybe a kid grows up with their parents fighting and such. Then the kid says – I hated my childhood and this is why. I don’t want to grow up to be like them. Then, they make changes.

      Sometimes it happens like that as well. However, I would rather grow up living peacefully. It just seems like a better way to be.

      Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you have a great rest of the week!
      Lisa recently posted…Happiness is Making Squishable Baby Wool!My Profile

  6. This is really lovely, having a non competitive and listening household is something I really strive for…and modelling that behaviour yourself…well done! Have you heard of Hand in Hand parenting….sounds a bit like what you do…real emphasis on listening and respecting kids needs. As to spacing..I\’ve got 2 and a half, 4, 2, and 5 year gaps…bit of a mix, but the two year gap is the real winner….they get along so so well, . The five year gap has only just been born, but that\’s looking pretty good too!!

  7. You are right it is about listening, listening all the time and processing what we hear and acting in an appropriate way if we need to. It is often when children don’t feel that they are listened to that they ‘take’ this out on each other which leads to rivalry. This is a lovely post thank you for sharing, I love the picture of your children!
    sustainablemum recently posted…SupportMy Profile

    • Thanks!

      Sometimes listening is the hardest thing for me to do. I have to make an effort to stop what I’m doing and just listen. I think it’s important because it makes them feel important – because what they have to say is important.

      It’s hard work trying to make everyone feel as they are equal. No favorites.
      Lisa recently posted…Happiness is Making Squishable Baby Wool!My Profile

  8. Great topic! I don’t foster competition either. I never though about it but completely agree with the way you put it that you don’t want competition to be your kids only motivation. My kids are just 2 years apart and so do play with the same toys etc but luckily we don’t have too many problems. I often remind them what good playmates they are. I like to think that helps keep the peacea little.
    Ann recently posted…Memory Book for BabyMy Profile

    • Hey Ann,

      I was just thinking yesterday when I was tired, and they were taking care of each other so nicely outside. It’s nice that siblings can be such great friends. I mean, I trust my kids outside with Grayson while I get something done in the house. They play so well together and love each other so much.

      It’s just nice.

      Thanks so much for your comment.
      Lisa recently posted…Happiness is Making Squishable Baby Wool!My Profile

  9. I had never thought about star or behaviour charts as driving first/last competition, but you are totally right! I’m not a process person so would have been unlikely to have succeeded at keeping track (ha!). However, after having lived through the damage that can be caused by creating competition between siblings, I’m all for not creating more of it.
    jana recently posted…Making Apricot JamMy Profile

    • Jana. Haha! Yeah. I’ve experienced it. plus, it doesn’t work. They get all wrapped up into who is first that they forget what it’s all about.

      It’s crazy.

      Yeah, keeping track. I don’t have time for it, you know? It’s a second job keeping track of all the stars.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! You always seem to make me smile!
      Lisa recently posted…Happiness is Making Squishable Baby Wool!My Profile


  1. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  2. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  3. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  4. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  5. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  6. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

  7. […] Lessening the competitive enviornment in the home — Lisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition. […]

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