This is a response to one of the questions asked by one of my blog readers. “How do I deal with sibling rivalry?” A situation I get caught in myself and I’m sure that’s the story of quite a number of parents as well. Fighting between siblings is a common occurrence in a household but even though it sounds normal, this could be very stressful for parents that get caught in it and if not managed properly can lead to physical confrontation between the siblings which can be very harmful to them and hurtful for the parents. Further complications can result in siblings going into adulthood resenting each other. Even though this might sound extreme, it does occur therefore it is crucial for parents to understand what this is and how best to deal with it.
A short story on what I witnessed. I went with a friend to a party once and happened to have sat in front of two ladies (I’ll call them A&B). We were all discussing at the table but I noticed that anytime lady A tries to voice out her thoughts and opinion on the issue being discussed, lady B shuts her up immediately telling her “what do you know about the issue being discussed” despite the fact that lady B was a smart grounded professional. Lady B occasionally responded sharply to lady A. It was almost as if B did not want A to be heard. Everyone on the table noticed this as well. It was very disrespectful and uncivilized. When I got the opportunity to speak with my friend that I escorted to the party, I asked her what was wrong with the lady that kept shutting the other up? My friend smiled and said oh….those are sisters from the same mother. They have been known to be like that from an early age. I exclaimed!…… and wondered how a relationship between two sisters could degenerate to that level. But unfortunately, that is the blunt truth of life…..sibling rivalry (turned jealousy) can be carried into adulthood.
Here is what experts have to say-What are the causes of sibling rivalry? Children’s temperament, evolving needs, special needs children and imitating bad role models.
So how do we manage it from an early age?
- encourage them to resolve their own issues themselves. Coach them on using the appropriate language when speaking with each other.
- When it gets too heated up, separate them until they are both clam. Wait till emotions have cooled down and then try to it resolve with them
- “Don’t put too much focus on figuring out which child is to blame”. It takes two to tango.
- “Try to set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. When they both want the same toy, perhaps there’s a game they could play together instead.”- Personally, I will take the toy away from them. No one gets it.
- Set ground rules and acceptable behavior- ….hipee!!!!….I do this 🙂
- Keep their hands to themselves and no cursing, no-name calling, no yelling, no door slamming. Involve them in the setting of the rules and what the consequences will be when they are broken. It teaches them to take responsibility for their actions,
- Teach them that everything in life does not have to be fair and equal. “sometimes one kid needs more than the other”
- If you notice that they fight over the same issue often (example- a toy/book), put schedule together so they can take turns
- Have fun together as a family. This has really helped me. I create time to spend with all of them, together.
- Give room for each child to be themselves. Whatever they like doing, allow him/her to do it and create time to spend with them doing it together. An outdoor child, video game child, reader etc.
- As adults we like our space…… give each child space to do their thing (I tell my children, “you don’t have to do things together all the time. You have different personalities so you are bound to do things differently and separately at times”). The other child also does not need to tag along for play days with sibling’s friends
- “If fights between your school-age kids are frequent, hold weekly family meetings in which you repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. Consider establishing a program where the kids earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling.”
- We all know children like to get their parent’s attention- remove yourself from their surroundings and you remove the incentive hence the fighting may stop.
In parenting, I have learned that love overcomes all. Showing my children love and telling them they have to love one another is something that has helped me tremendously (besides the above points). I explain to them why it is imperative for them to love one another. I tell them it is a commandment from God. I tell them things like “how can you say you love God when you can’t even love the people God has put in your life”. I don’t tolerate jealousy and negative emotions. Do I get it right all the time? NO! I wish though 🙂 . But this has really helped me and I hope it helps you too.
Sibling rivalry is something that makes parents want to pull their hair out at times. It is tiring and at times scary. Nip it in the bud at an early age.
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