If you are a parent to more than one child or are expecting another baby, you are bound to experience some dose of sibling rivalry. For most parenting, sibling rivalry is very frustrating and challenging to handle in the correct manner. As parents, we would like to resolve any conflict that arises between our children in the most affectionate but firm way.
So how should one go about dealing with sibling rivalry? How can we ensure that we are following a positive parenting approach while disciplining our children? Let’s have a look at it in more depth.
Understanding Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is a normal and inevitable part of growing up in a multi-child household. Siblings fight can have fights or arguments over the most minor things imaginable. From a wrestling match over the remote control to competing over the last piece of chocolate or pizza, conflicts between the siblings can be never-ending.
A few common ways that children exhibit this rivalry are:
- Making fun of or calling names
- Yelling and accusing each other
- Physically hitting one another
- Intentionally breaking or hiding toys or valuables of their sibling
- Trying to frame each other for mistakes in front of parents
Sure, for parents, it can be extremely overwhelming and a constant struggle to maintain peace at home. But one thing that you need to realize is that though it might seem demanding, sibling conflicts are manageable with the help of the appropriate strategies.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry?
So what causes your children to be constantly at each other’s throats? The reasons can be numerous. Here are a few of the significant causes of sibling rivalry or conflict between brothers and sisters:
- Age factor – young children, such as toddlers, may fight over possessions
- Competing for parents’ attention or love
- Feelings of jealousy toward siblings
- Differences in temperaments
- Children with special needs
- Unfavorable home environments (e.g., parents do not get along)
- Inappropriate parenting style
- Boredom or lack of activities
- Stress or anxiety in children
Consequences Of Sibling Rivalry
Some competition or rivalry between the siblings may be unavoidable. However, frequent fights or yelling episodes can negatively affect your children. A recent study indicates that children who experience bullying from their siblings may develop self-esteem issues and have a lower sense of satisfaction in life.
Other studies also suggest that sibling rivalry can lead to greater chances of depression and mental health conditions (even self-harm) as children grow up.
On the flip side, a lesser degree of healthy sibling rivalry can be beneficial for your children. It can help promote social skills and emotional intelligence, as well as communication and negotiation abilities in young children as they learn through dealing with their siblings.
Parental Strategies To Handling Sibling Rivalry
If you are a parent who is getting exceedingly frustrated due to the constant fights between your children, worry not! We have curated some practical strategies you can follow to handle brothers and sisters rivalry and turn it into healthy competition instead.
Just like in any other relationship, it is natural for parents to feel more inclined or more proud of one of their children. Maybe this particular child is more agreeable or similar to you in habits.
The feeling may be understandable; however, to act up these biases of show preference for one child in the presence of the other is not a positive thing to do. The key is to first be aware of any biases that you may have towards your children and then try to work towards eliminating (or at least not letting them show).
Focus On The Strengths
Despite growing up in the same household and circumstances, children can be very different from one another, and these differences are what make them unique. As a parent, it is your job to identify and appreciate what strengths and skills each of your children have and celebrate them.
One may be great at calculations, while the other may have a fondness for art. Instead of trying to make them conform or follow a pattern that you ideally want, focus on the positives and let your children be truthful to themselves.
One significant aspect that can be a confidence killer for children and lead to lower self-esteem or feelings of jealousy is comparison. Parents are often guilty of comparing their children or praising one of them, especially in front of others.
One child might perform better than the other, whether it is academic accomplishments, physical performance, or even helping around the house. Instead of complaining or highlighting the shortcomings, encourage and assist your child so they can do better in the future.
Although family time is significant for the siblings to bond well with each other, a child needs individual time with each of the parents. Actively take time each or every other day to spend in a one-on-one setting.
Your child may have thoughts or emotions they may not feel comfortable expressing in front of the entire family. It is also a great way to show each of your children that they are a priority for you and to avoid feelings of neglect.
Be Mindful & Considerate
Be mindful of any stressful circumstances or changes that may cause your child to indulge in more fights with their siblings. Maybe you just welcomed a new baby into the family, or your child is being bullied in school and acting out at home in frustration.
No matter the situation, being kind and affectionate should be the number one rule in a parent-child dynamic. It helps the child trust the parents and reduces feelings of stress or any future behavioral problems