Success Story: Handling Sibling Rivalries and Toilet “Learning”

Dear Kristín, I just wanted to send you a little note and thank you for introducing me to RIE, Magda Gerber and Janet Lansbury, amongst others. I have now been studying this method for about two months; following you on Instagram and YouTube, reading articles and listening to podcasts – and I’m telling you: this has completely changed our family’s lives!

We have a girl that turned three last January and a boy that is 10 months old.  Our girl had a hard time adjusting to the new baby, and it wasn’t until I started using RIE that I saw improvements with her.

Before, she tried hurting her brother often, using her arms to hit him if he came close, pushing and shouting.  She simply could not stand him. I stopped scolding her for this (I don’t anymore, I simply guide her). I now explain gently that “I won’t let you hurt your brother” etc.  Since this change, my daughter is doing much better.

She has now started to help out with him.  All of a sudden, she is interested in helping him if he’s in trouble.  She kisses him and hugs him constantly. Of course, we do have incidents where she forgets this, but then I simply apply this method.  Rarely does it go so far for me to have to “help her to stop hurting” (link, setting limits) and remove her.  The problems are usually resolved quickly.

The same goes with all disagreements.  They barely exist anymore. She eats her dinner better, plays better by herself, and I feel she is more self-confident when I’m not running to constantly help her with something.  I simply approach her calmly, “I see” what she is having trouble with, and I let her confront the problem herself without panicking. I even helped her find the courage to finally use the slide on the playground, something she has never wanted to do.  And that wasn’t done by pushing her to do it, simply by using this approach!

Another example

Here’s another example.  Yesterday, she was really into the game she was playing and it was already bedtime.  I walked towards her, waited a little, and when I saw that I wasn’t interrupting her game I announced that it was nighttime and we now needed to put on pyjamas.  Of course, she said “NO”. Then I said, “I see that playing with your new building blocks is really fun. You don’t want to go to sleep right away. You can play for five more minutes”.

When five minutes were up, I returned and repeated the same announcement about the pyjamas.  I got another “NO”. I then gave her options. “I can see you’re having fun with the building blocks but you’ve now had 5 minutes to play.  Now, you need to put the pyjamas on. You can decide whether you will dress yourself or whether I should help you”. She chose the latter this time, and there was no problem.  That’s how it’s like with almost everything.

I explain a lot what is about to happen, and if we have disagreements, then I use sportscasting (link), I show understanding, I use a compromise; and as a last resort, I offer options.  “I can hear you don’t want to put on your socks. You really like being barefoot, but now it’s so cold that I want you to put socks on.  You can choose between putting on the kitty socks or the purple ones (for example)”.

This works so well with my child I even find it hard to believe!  This approach should simply be everywhere! Everyone should know about this and it should made into a law!  Haha!

Toilet learning vs. toilet training

I’m now testing this with weaning her off diapers, with the mindset of toilet “learning” instead of the typical toilet “training”.  She stopped wanting to use the potty or the toilet once her brother was born; she completely refused.  At her kindergarten, they have started to pressure me and everyone keeps asking when she’ll stop. I used to always put such pressure on her; “You’re so big, big girls pee in the toilet!” “Don’t you want these cool panties?”, “Ew, poopy smell”, and all that nonsense.

Then I read Janet’s articles regarding the subject and I was mind-blown.  I’ve been doing this all wrong! But we took a u-turn and now there is no pressuring and “judging”.  I sometimes ask if she’d like to try the potty or the toilet and if it’s a ‘no’, then, that is a valid answer.  I often ask her when I change her diaper whether she’d like a new one or just panties. I don’t judge if the answer is a diaper.  I never talk about this as “yucky”, about a bad smell etc. My guideline in the whole process has been respect.  How would I like to be treated?, is what I try to ask myself.

All of a sudden, her dolls have started to use the toilet during playtime.  Even though she doesn’t want to use the toilet herself, I feel that this is a great improvement.  It’s going to be interesting to see how much time she will take for this ‘project’ of leaving her diapers behind.

This is just all so fun!  Parenting is now something that I look forward to waking up to, and to dealing with everyday. Thank you!