Coping with Sibling Rivalry

 

We had one more session of Mums World support group this week and Coping with Sibling rivalry was the topic discussed in the session. Every household with two or more children face sibling rivalry at various levels. Siblings are like friends that children have at home. Friends in a school classroom or on a playground enjoy time together as well as fight at times. Similarly, siblings have their fun times and fight times too. This is very normal. However, parents would like this to stop, to enjoy a more peaceful home. It is natural for parents to want their children to love and respect each other. They can then be present for each other when they are grown up.

These are some of the points discussed at the session, on how parents can cope with sibling rivalry.

There is no competition, stop comparing

Every child is born unique, with his own unique talents and abilities. It is important for parents to recognize, understand and encourage the uniqueness in their children. They should help them to use their potential to the optimum. Comparison gives rise to a sense of inferiority in one child and superiority in the other. This could lead to jealousy amongst siblings. Instead, parents could use praises to recognize everybody’s good points, be it action, talent or ability. This way, children do not feel jealous of each other but learn to recognize the good points in their siblings as well as themselves.

Encouraging children to support each other, is another way of reducing sibling rivalry. This could be done by encouraging children to participate in celebrating their sibling’s success, like cheering for an athletic sibling for his performance at school sports day or involving in backstage preparation for a sibling’s dance recital. This could be followed by everyone going for an ice-cream to celebrate the achievement. This way, there will be less jealousy amongst siblings because they would know that everyone is equally loved and everyone’s abilities are recognized, irrespective of how different they are from each other. If taught to support one another at an early age, children will learn to turn to each other when they grow up too.

Drop the labels

Parents often tend to label their children. Labeling, creates a kind of competition amongst siblings, which in turn gives rise to jealousy and sibling rivalry. In addition to that, labeling creates a certain image or a certain role for children, whether they like it or not. By avoiding labels, we give children a chance to act otherwise. For example, by dropping “my talkative one” we give the child a chance to try to listen and practice being quiet at times. Or by dropping “my younger one” we give an opportunity for our younger child to grow up.

Offer one-on-one attention

Everyone enjoys the feeling of being loved, being heard, being understood. Ensuring that every day, every child in the family gets at least 15 to 20 minutes of individual attention from each parent, can reduce negative attention seeking behaviour of children. Fights, arguments, tantrums of children are ways of seeking negative attention from parents. If parents start giving their children positive attention, the need for seeking negative attention may not arise.

Teach children how to express feelings

It is important for parents to teach children how to recognize their feelings and to manage the same. For example teaching children to verbalize clearly when hurt or count 1 to 10 slowly when angry, may reduce chances of siblings getting into arguments. Knowing to recognize feelings can help children to recognize feelings of their siblings too. This can be the first step towards teaching children empathy.

Ignore minor disagreements 

When a conversation amongst siblings sounds like a beginning of disagreement, it is advisable for parents to stay away from it. Let the siblings work it out themselves. It is not necessary for parents to assume that every minor disagreement will end up in a fight.

Listen to what they have to say

If the disagreement turns into an argument that the siblings are not able to settle amongst themselves, parents might have to step in. They can first start by staying calm and listening to each child. They can encourage children to express their side of the story. Then without blaming anyone or taking sides, ask them to come up to a solution. Parents need to keep children’s focus on problem solving rather than allowing the blame game to take over. If children are not able to agree to a workable solution, then parents can suggest a few solutions and ask children to pick up what works for them.

Suggesting appropriate solutions to children can be an excellent way for parents to teach them how to negotiate in a way that it is a WIN WIN for everyone.

Actions need to be reprimanded not the cause

If the fight escalates and becomes violent, parents need to be clear that consequences for actions, apply to all. It is important that parents first deal with the actions of each child involved and reprimand the same with appropriate consequence. This will reduce the recurrence of inappropriate actions during sibling fights. When everyone has to bear the consequences there are less chances of children feeling that their parents are partial or biased towards their siblings.

The cause of the fight can be discussed when everyone is calm, maybe after dinner or the next day. Children can then be asked how the said dispute could have been resolved in a different way. This will teach children alternate ways of solving disputes or problems in the future.

Parents play an important role in their children’s lives. If they deal with sibling rivalry using patience and encouragement, the same can be overcome successfully, giving children resources that would help them later in life. Children learn how to face jealousy, how to share and most of all they learn to recognize and accept their own strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Coping with Sibling Rivalry”

  1. Good afternoon.
    As I attended the session on sibling rivalry , it was good learning for us.
    Very first point I liked was that don’t compare siblings with each other and don’t label. From that day I am trying to work on this. When they both are fighting I am trying to not enter in the fight and I can see that it really works. For now I haven’t enough words to say but very soon I will come back with my experience and I will share that with you guys till then bye & take care.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Garima. Glad to know that your staying away from your children’s fights is helpful. We look forward to learn more from you about your parenting experiences.

  2. I had attended one more session on moms world, it was really useful session on sibling Rivalry. I appreciate the opportunity for the group interaction. It was helpful to know that there are other mums with the same problem. I liked the group involvement and sharing personal experience. This was really useful session for me as I am really going through a lot. It is extremely hard for me to cope. After that session I am following Prerna mam advise and really I found lots of improvement between my children. I appreciate Prerna therapy’s efforts to have a platform like this for mothers.

    1. Thank you Smita, for sharing your support group experience with us. We are happy to know that you feel a sense of relief when you hear similar parenting experiences from other mothers at Mums World. I am always available to help you face the challenges with your children.

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