Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is still my favorite parenting book of all time, but the most useful parts of this sibling version can be found in the original. While I liked this book and thought it offered good advice for encouraging siblings to get along, Siblings Without Rivalry is still my favorite book containing specific strategies for fostering healthy, happy sibling relationships. Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings was definitely was worth the time I spent reading it, but if you’re limited on time, I’d recommend prioritizing the other two books above this one.
Review: Having just had my fourth child, raising siblings that not only get along, but love and value each other is high on my list of parenting priorities. Since Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is still my go-to book when I feel like some aspect of our family is getting out of balance, I was super excited to hear that Dr. Markham was coming out with a sibling version. However, even though I bought it right away, I didn’t feel as compelled to continue reading it as I did with the original, maybe because I’d already learned many of the lessons in the first book.
Reading the beginning of this book was a great refresher on the author’s peaceful parent techniques. For example, one of her recommendations which I love is helping your child to have a “scheduled meltdown.” No one likes it when their kids cry, whine, and fuss. However, as the author points out, crying in your arms actually helps your child to let go of their bad feelings. When your child seems to be crying over the smallest, most insignificant problems, rather than get irritated (which is my first reaction), it’s better to almost provoke your child to tears by being sensitive and comforting while still not giving them what they want. Then they can have a good cry, you can console, and in the end your child will feel happier. I’m always amazed by how well this works.
However, while there are many unique suggestions that help individual children become more caring and thoughtful in general (which obviously has the potential to improve sibling relationships), generally speaking, the suggestions regarding pairs of children are fairly obvious. For example, she recommends spending individual time with each child and not comparing your children. (Great suggestions, but not as helpful during specific instances when one child is being mean to another child.)
I suppose my biggest issue with this book is that I have very specific problems with my 2, 4, and 6 year olds and the main takeaway message I got from this book is that I’m more or less already following her advice, I’m just going to have to wait a couple years for some more maturity to develop. For example, my toddler occasionally hits his older siblings. While I feel that I’ve already talked endlessly about “hitting hurts” and “we can hit pillows not people,” I still feel like my message is not getting though. (Honestly, I’ve tried time-outs too, which the author is against, with similar lack of success.) After reading this book, rather than feeling better equipped to deal with these instances, I feel the author’s recommendation is to just keep doing what I’m doing and wait for him to grow out of it. This is probably good advice, but not the short term fix I was hoping for.
Lastly, even though we have a newborn, I didn’t feel the third section on bringing home a new baby was particularly applicable to our family. When there are already 3 kids at home, there’s less of a need to help the big kids understand the concept of being a brother or sister and to keep them entertained. They already have plenty of experience with siblings and can entertain each other better than I ever could. However, I do think this section would be useful to families expecting their second child.
Overall, I’d recommend Siblings Without Rivalry as a complement to Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids for parents with multiple kids. However, if you were short on time and wanted to read just one book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings would be an excellent substitute with nearly all of the same great information and advice as the two books combined. (Personal Rating: 8/10)
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