How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry as Parents

How to Prevent Incidents of Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is a natural occurrence in families with more than one child. This struggle develops when you have the children vying for the attention of their parents after the birth of the second or succeeding children in the family. While incidents of sibling rivalry are unpreventable, parents should take the necessary steps to reduce the conflicts between their kids. Let us take a look at some valuable tips you can use while you raise your children, so that sibling rivalry will not become a source of stress and conflict in your family.

Make time for all your children

Every child deserves your time, love and attention. Do not just shower your attention on one child, so that feelings of resentment and, eventually sibling rivalry, develops in the child who is neglected. After you bring your second child home from the hospital, already plan your day so that you have time for your older child. In this way, he or she will not feel neglected or left out. The best times to spend with your older child are when your baby is asleep. Make the necessary adjustments when both of your children grow older, but always ensure that you have time for your kids.

Never compare your children

Being individuals, you should expect that each of your children have unique characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. While one child may excel in academics, the other may be great in sports. Never tell your child statements like “Why aren’t you as good as your brother/sister?” Instead, learn to appreciate your children’s unique gifts. Praise their accomplishments and always extend your aid in the aspects that they are having difficulties. If you compare your kids all the time, you will only encourage conflicts and fights between them. Worse, they will refuse to recognize the importance of their own gifts.

Inculcate cooperation and camaraderie between your children

At a very early age, children should be taught to cooperate with each other so that they develop a feeling of closeness and camaraderie. You can do this by having them perform simple tasks together, such as picking up their toys after playtime or helping with chores (Example, when cleaning the dishes, one is washing while the other is drying them). When they grow older, you can have them work together in planning family parties or outings. By encouraging cooperation, there will fewer instances wherein your children will compete for the limelight in family activities.

Make it a point to listen to your children

Early on, establish open communication with your children. Once they are at an age that they can communicate to you their concerns, you should be ready to listen to what they have to say. These discussions will enable you to determine potential irritations, problems or conflicts that exist between the siblings. Once these worries are voiced out, it will be much easier to come up with solutions and resolve these problems. By helping rival siblings to resolve their conflicts, your children will be able to see that their parents respect their individuality and care for their problems and needs.

Again, some form of sibling rivalry is part and parcel of raising a family. However, you can take the above steps to minimize these conflicts. Not only will parenting be less taxing, your children will learn to love each other and develop a meaningful relationship that will last until they are adults.

There will always be an issue about which one is better in sports who is better at school between siblings. This is perfectly normal is is actually healthy and part of human nature. Siblings will occasionally argue or fight over little things. If you have toddlers or babies, expect that this will happen.

The severity and frequency of sibling rivalry depends on many things, including age difference, personality, age of children, and how fighting is handled by parents.

It is generally thought that the younger children are, the more rivalry there will be. Rivalry does seem to decrease as children get older. It is also thought that the closer in age the children are, the more rivalry there will be. There is generally more competitiveness between children who are close in age.

While there is little parents can do to completely eliminate rivalry between their children, there are some steps that can be taken to minimize it.

Why Sibling Rivalry Occurs

Whether siblings fight a lot or a little, there is usually no one specific cause. Rivalry occurs for a number of reasons. They differ from family to family and from sibling to sibling. Here are some common reasons why siblings fight.

  • Status – Many siblings fight for position in the family.
  • Attention – Many siblings fight to get their parents’ attention.
  • Ownership – Many children fight over belongings, friends, and parents’ time.

How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry

  • Teach alternatives to fighting. Before children can handle their disputes on their own, they need the tools to do so. Parents should show children acceptable alternatives to fighting, such as walking away, compromising, and negotiating.
  • Encourage discussion. Children need to be given the chance to talk about how they feel. Parents should also encourage the expression of feelings in positive ways. If children do not want to talk about their feelings, parents should accept that as their right. Parents should make sure their children know that they can come to them if and when they decide to talk.
  • Set specific getting-along rules. Children need to know exactly what is expected of them. If parents tell their children to “get along,” they need to know exactly what that means (for example, no hitting, or name calling). For older children, it may help if parents write out and post rules.
  • (done) Remember that each child is unique and each one has his own personality. You do not have to treat each of your child the same way. This is next to impossible. They are not the same.
  • Ignore tattling. Children often use tattling as a way to improve their status with their parents. Parents should simply ignore it. They can say something like “I’m sorry you and your brother aren’t getting along.” If children report some behavior that must be stopped, parents can stop the behavior without addressing the tattling.
  • Give children the responsibility for resolving conflicts. Parents should try not to get pulled into the position of judge in children’s arguments. Instead, parents should let their children solve their own problems (unless children are mismatched, e.g., one is much older than the other). Parents should ignore minor conflicts and let their children work out solutions on their own.
  • Step in, however, if fights become physical. Children must not be allowed to hurt each other. If physical fights are tolerated by parents, children run the risk of learning that violence is one way to solve conflicts.
  • Use time-out. Time-out is a technique that involves putting children in a very boring place for several minutes. Time-out should be used for behaviors that just can’t be ignored, either ones that are very dangerous or very bad.
  • Avoid situations that bring about rivalrous behavior. If there are specific situations or activities that bring about rivalrous behavior between siblings, such as a particular game or a particular toy, parents should try to limit their children’s exposure to such things.

Sibling rivalry is a fact of life. There will always be disagreements between siblings. However, parents can use these opportunities to teach their children how to resolve conflicts. This is a very important tool to have later in life. Sibling rivalry has its positive side, too. In learning how to deal with rivalry, children learn how to cooperate, problem-solve, and negotiate. They will probably grow up to be more tolerant of other people, and more generous, too.

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