Sibling rivalry has been around as long as families have been around.
But why does sibling rivalry exist?
Siblings often have different temperaments, varying interests, diverse goals and ethics.
Their position in the family also affects the expectations that parents have of their children.
Often, older siblings are expected to defer to their younger siblings, making them feel that their needs are not as important to their parents.
Similarly, parents may have different expectations from daughters than from sons.
Because families are made up of many different types of personalities, it is difficult to generalize how parents can help manage sibling rivalry.
So what can parents do to limit sibling rivalry in the home?
The following list of DOs and DON’TS may help limit the severity of fighting:
1. DON’T make comparisons between your children. All children deserve to be given their own personal goals and expectations within the family. Making comparisons will set each of them up for failure or disappointment at varying times.
2. DON’T ever dismiss your children’s need to express their anger or frustration. Anger is a normal human emotion and should not be discouraged. The expression of anger, however, needs to be done in a socially appropriate way. Siblings will get angry with each other, but this does not permit them to physically hurt one another. Parents can use these opportunities to acknowledge the anger and encourage them to talk it through.
3. DO avoid situations that encourage feelings of guilt and resentment between siblings. Children need to learn that feelings and actions are mutually exclusive. Parents can teach their children that the ‘guilty’ feelings they experience after having done something wrong are a lot harder to tolerate than merely ‘feeling’ like they want to do something that they know is wrong.
4. As often as possible, DO leave siblings alone to settle their own arguments. Don’t intervene every time. This discourages children from learning how to cope on their own and also creates a pattern where children will always expect you to solve their problems.
5. DON’T take sides. More often than not, parents only see a very small part of the argument, and are too quick to ‘punish’ the wrong child. Without seeing the big picture, parents need to be careful they do not appear to be favouring one child over another.
6. DO acknowledge appropriate play. Too often, parents focus their attention on their children when they are misbehaving and tend to ignore appropriate behaviour. Praise goes a long way when trying to teach children and is also very helpful in raising their self-esteem.
7. DO put in place a fair reward system where all children can earn privileges equally. For instance, parents can individualize a reward system to earn privileges for such things as who gets to ride “shot gun” in the car, who pushes the elevator buttons, who chooses the restaurant for the next family outing, who chooses the next movie, etc.
Without a doubt, siblings will continue to rival until the end of time. Parents can only do so much. With guidance and direction, one hopes that as siblings grow up and mature, they will learn to pick and choose what they fight about, and keep their parents out of it.
Photo: © Sparkmom | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
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