Has your household become a battleground? Sibling rivalry is a common concern for families with more than one child. It doesn't take long for kids to become competitive, especially if one child is excelling in an area that makes the other jealous. Sometimes one child may simply by getting a little more attention—for whatever reason—which can cause jealousy.
We’ve discussed sharing
and family bonding
in our last two Families First articles; today we'll be zoning in on how families can work together to achieve a friendly, harmonious home life.
Overcoming sibling rivalry – What is it?
Sibling rivalry often occurs around the birth of a younger child, when the elder sibling(s) develop a sense of jealousy about the family’s new, cute addition (who inevitably requires lots of attention). As they get older, fighting between siblings is a normal part of growing up. However, constant battling can become extremely frustrating for parents who just want a little calmness in the household.
Siblings can often view each other as rivals: an opponent against whom they must compete to attain what they want. Whether it be more time in the shower, more attention, the rights to watch a particular TV show or the power to choose the radio station in the car. Your kids may have differing personalities—which creates tension—or they may feel that you display favouritism towards another.
The level of sibling rivalry is often a reflection of the ages of your children. As the children develop maturity, the fighting will likely ease; they'll become more confident in themselves, and will feel less of a need to project onto their siblings. That may be small comfort to you while your children are in the thick of things, when their rivalry can manifest as anything from manipulation and teasing to violence.
Overcoming sibling rivalry – What can you do?
The best way to address with sibling rivalry in your household is to know when to leave the children to work things out themselves and when to intervene. Younger children will often require you you to jump in to diffuse the situation, as they may need assistance with the problem-solving process. However, if you witness your children expressing their feelings and attempting to compromise, it’s best to stand back and watch.
If a disagreement becomes violent, you must immediately step in. Once the children have been separated and have cooled down, it is important to discuss the issue and reinforce that violence is never a solution.
Here are our top 5 tips for reducing rivalry and fighting on a day-to-day basis:
- Apply the same rules and consequences to all your children. Even if you don't have a 'favourite', you may act differently depending on the child. This could be interpreted as favouritism.
- Model positive ways for the children to interact with one another. For example, by asking politely to borrow a toy.
- Allow each child their own space and possessions. Sharing is essential, but all the time? We wouldn't do it in adulthood!
- Don’t dismiss a child’s feelings; allow them to openly express themselves without fear of embarrassment or lack of understanding.
- Don’t solve conflicts simply by punishing who 'started it'. One child may still have contributed to the issue, even if they didn’t spark the argument
How do you deal with sibling rivalry in your household? Are there any particular situations that cause recurrent issues for your family?