Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Behavioral Study of Siblings

Why is it that whenever one of my kids is in trouble, the other turns into the model child?

When Monkey is screaming and stomping her feet, suddenly Volcano is the perfect angel. He is miraculously saying "Yes, Mommy" and "May I please, Mommy" and having the best manners that even Emily Post would envy. It is truly a miracle.

And, in turn, when Volcano is talking back or rolling his eyes and saying "I knoooooow!" in his I-can't-believe-he's-only-five-and-not-a-teenager-yet voice, Monkey turns around and gives me a hug, saying, "Can I kiss you, Mommy?" in her sweetest of princess voices. It's as if the one kid feels sorry for me, seeing as I'm about to tear my hair out, and decides to give me a break. Or maybe they're just being competitive with each other and trying to show the other one up.

Either way, I call it the "Opposite Behavioral Effect." The theory is that each negative action by an offspring can cause the sibling to have the opposite, positive reaction. (That minor in sociology I have is finally being put to some good use.)

For example, let's say your 3-year-old daughter is screaming "No No NOOOOO!" at you when you tell her to clean up her place at dinner. You become frustrated, upset, and are ready to scream. When, suddenly, your 5-year-old asks ever so sweetly, "Mommy, may I be excused from the table, please?" This is the Opposite Behavioral Effect.

Or when your 5-year-old is arguing with you that his Legos are just fine scattered all over the floor in his room. This is when your 3-year-old saunters in and tells you sweetly, "My room is all clean, Mommy. Just like you asked." This is the Opposite Behavioral Effect.

There is also the "Ganging Up on You Effect." Thankfully, I don't get this one as often. This is when one offspring encourages the other offspring in a negative manner, coaxing their sibling to join them in bad behavior. For example, when Volcano tries to balance his cereal spoon on his nose, Monkey laughs hysterically and tries to imitate him. This, as many of you know, can be tortuous. (This is one of the main reasons Hubby and I decided to stop at two.)

So... now it's your turn. Which one do your kids pull most often? Or is there another "Behavioral Theory of Siblings" I may have overlooked?

13 comments:

Lanxi said...

Even with my 4 biggest, it seems that one is so sweet and loving when everyone else is being threatened with forever timeouts.
Can't wait to see what happens when all 6 are in the mix!

emma said...

Funny, I remember doing this as a child.

jessicahb said...

Hey! Thanks for remembering me inn your "Thanks for Commenting" widget! I know it's been a while, but I'm still reading!

McMommy said...

Currently my 3.5 year old and 15 month old engage in their favorite...the Ganging Up on McMommy effect....which I never would have guessed would have happened at such an early age. Oh lucky me!

Is it weird that I'm kind of looking forward to the Opposite Behavorial effect?? It sounds so much better to me!

Sweepea said...

YAY!! I'm top commenter! Either I have too much to say or I just love seeing my words in print. Eh...who cares!

Dad Stuff said...

Our little girl always plays the "I'm a nice girl, right Daddy?" whenever her brother takes some heat.
Her brother doesn't play innocent often but will become the third parent whenever Sweet Pea crosses the line.
SP doesn't appreciate that at all.

georgia said...

My kids GANG UP ON ME all the time! I envy you and your Opposite Behavioral Effect!

trying said...

ooh I love me some opposite behavioral effect (we call it "good child syndrome" around here). I'll take a good child anyway i can get it!

American Mum said...

Hmm, now that I've got 2, I hope this comes soon! It's about time we had at least one cooperating!

amanda said...

still on baby #1 so i can't say for sure. but i am guessing when #2 shows up - we will get it all!!

happy POW :)

Jenny said...

So funny because just this morning BOTH my kids were kissing up to me, trying to compete against who had the better manners. I think it was the Competitive Behavioral Effect. So rare! It was HEAVEN!

Lisa said...

So funny but so true :)
Happy POW!

Jen said...

We have a bad case of the Opposite Behavioral Effect at our house. My daughter never fails to do this when my son is in trouble for something. It annoys my son to no end!