Sibling rivalry can take many forms, ranging from friendly inquiries about a parent’s favourite to violent fighting, punching, and biting. It’s one of the most common issues that families face, as well as a major source of parental stress.
Siblings may have very different personalities, but they are forced to live together for years and work out their differences. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to improve their communication and conflict resolution abilities. It can be extremely aggravating for both parents and children. Sibling rivalry may be a unique sort of bullying with long-term consequences for a kid. Knowing how to deal with sibling rivalry can help parents provide a safe and supportive environment for all of their children, making parenting less stressful Read Also How to Handle Child
What causes rivalry among siblings
There are frequently contested possessions, and children may quarrel over limited resources. Just as some squabbling among roommates who did not choose each other is unavoidable, so is some squabbling among siblings.
Despite the fact that most parents of multiple children report some level of sibling rivalry, the causes of this rivalry vary from family to family. Most experts believe that competition for parental love and approval is a major factor. The following are some factors that may exacerbate sibling rivalry
- Parental favouritism, whether perceived or real.
- Temperament and personality differences.
- When a child is concerned that their younger sibling will steal their favourite blanket, they must guard their resources.
- Jealousy over parental love, such as when an older child admires the attention given to a new baby.
- Conflict resolution modelling by parents, such as if parents model an aggressive or hostile conflict resolution style.
- Lack of conflict resolution skills, as young children rarely possess the complex skills required to deal with the challenges of cohabitation.
- When parents ignore physical conflict or laugh when one child teases another, this behaviour normalises or reinforces aggression.
- Seeing your sibling as a competitor rather than a partner.
How parents can avoid sibling rivalry
Although sibling rivalry is common, not all forms of it are healthy or normal.
- Talking to young children: Talking to your child about the baby and making them feel like an important part of the process can help them prepare for the arrival of a new baby.
- Making no significant adjustments: Making no abrupt changes in a child’s life after the birth of a new baby.
- Enforcing rules consistently and in an age-appropriate manner: When abusive behaviour toward one another is rewarded, siblings are more likely to repeat it. A child who can get what they want by stealing from a sibling, for example, is more likely to do so in the future.
- Silence your own alarm: For many parents, sibling conflict is automatic panic. Take a deep breath in and out. Remind yourself that, even if the situation appears to be dire, reacting with rage will not solve the problem. “This is not an emergency,” repeat to yourself and look at the situation with a calm mind.
- Accept that everyone is still learning: Rather than telling him, “You’re the oldest, you need to set a good example,” acknowledge that he is still learning how to manage frustration, interact safely with a baby, and fairly trade toys. In this situation, expecting him to “set an example” may be beyond his capabilities.
- Forget about being fair: Each child is a one-of-a-kind individual. This means you’ll have to give them a unique response that has nothing to do with their sibling. Some children require more attention, instruction, and supervision than others. Instead of trying to make everything “equal,” focus on meeting the needs of each child.
- Maintain your neutrality: It’s all too easy to assume who started it or who is to blame. Still, don’t pick aside. Rather than pointing fingers or trying to figure out who’s to blame, focus on helping both kids learn skills to handle the situation better next time.
- Sharing is a personal choice: Forcing children to surrender their toys against their will can result in resentment and frustration. Instead, teach your children how to share toys and take turns. Model and practise trading, waiting patiently, and respectfully expressing that they aren’t ready to give up a toy just yet.
- Allow feelings to be expressed: Bossy older brothers and annoying baby sisters can be a problem. When you give your child a safe place to talk about their feelings about their siblings, you’re letting them know that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings about them and that you’re there to help them sort it out.
- Make contact with each child: Kids feel safe and secure when they know you’re on their side, that you’ve got their back, and that you’ll do the same for their sibling. They may need to be reminded that their love hasn’t changed after an argument. And, more importantly, they both need to know that you have plenty of love to spare.
- Make your child know their worth: All children want to know that they are valued for who they are. They also want to know that the same standards you set for their brother will apply to them.
- No favouritism or comparing: There will be no favouritism or comparing of children. Don’t try to make one child more like the other. Make no unfavourable gender or physical comparisons. Don’t make twins wear the same thing.
- Spending quality time: Spending quality time alone with each child. This makes it easier for parents to recognise and nurture their children’s distinct personalities and abilities.