Having kids comes with its own share of joys and sometimes challenges. There are many happy moments for you as a parent, like the birth of your child, her first word or first day at school. One of the most unsettling issues that you can face as a parent is when your children do not get along or sibling rivalry exists.
Sibling rivalry might lead to several issues between your children and sometimes, between you and your partner as well. The good news is – your kids learn to manage their feelings and get along. The bad news is that they never reconcile and end up scarring their relationship for life.
Sibling rivalry is something which may start seemingly innocently and yet can end as jealousy, irritation or anger and long term damage.
Causes Of Sibling Rivalry
The most predominant reasons for emergence of siblings rivalry are:
- Excess attention given to one child.
- Comparison between the siblings by parents or peers.
- Child feeling threatened due to the arrival of a new child.
This often raises concern among parents and other members of the families. There is nothing to be worried about if handled before it blows out, you just need to manage their feelings and work with them. Rivalry among siblings can even be healthy and be treated as a minuscule problem and dealt with easily.
Here are 5 effective ways on how to deal with sibling rivalry:
1. Start The Bonding Process Before The Birth Of Another Child
Your firstborn will enjoy your undivided attention as an only child, but all that will end as you have another baby.
Tell your child about the baby that is going to join your family soon. Once you make your older child feel important, he will feel less threatened by the new arrival.
Keep a few gifts ready for your older child in the house, things that you know he likes. You can hand these to your older child when visitors come to visit your new baby but forget to get something for the older one.
Let your older child open up the presents for your younger one. You can also teach your child that he must share with his little brother or sister. Give him a sense of responsibility early.
2. Understand Each Child’s Individual Needs
Something that may seem right to one of your children may look extremely unfair to the other one. It is important that you give due importance to the individual needs of your children. Listen to your children’s complaints one-on-one and if needed you can speak to them alone, away from the other sibling. It will help reassure them, and they will share their concerns with you better.
Understand what is causing the negativity and the fights. Is one sibling bullying the other one? Does one sibling feel left out and mistreated? Is there any jealousy or sibling rivalry between the two children? Does your child feel you love the other child more?
You may not agree with what your child feels, but do acknowledge their feelings. Show them you care and that you understand. Make sure you speak in such a way that your child understands what you are saying.
3. Teach Your Children How To Disagree Respectfully
You or your partner may not always be around to sort out the differences that your children have. It is important to teach your children how they can sort out things mutually. Sit down with your children and talk about strategies that can help them cool down and what makes them angry or upset.
Make a list of all the things they can do to let off steam during a fight. A few options you can enlist for the same are– going off to another room, cleaning up their toys, taking a bath, taking a walk outside etc. Remember that all activities have to be age-appropriate. Let them know what is inappropriate such as hitting, screaming or shouting at each other.
4. Spend Quality Time With All Your Children On A Daily Basis
You may be caught up in your daily busy routine. However, it is important to ensure you spend enough quality time with each of your children one on one each day. Sometimes it is not about the quantity of time you spend with them but the quality of time spent.
If you do not have enough time to sit and talk, involve your child in something you are doing. If one of your children is interested in cooking or helping in the kitchen, talk with her while she helps you cook. If another child is interested in the laundry, try and catch up with him while carrying out your laundry.
Giving your undivided attention to each of your children will make them secure about your love, and they will accept their siblings better.
5. Pray For Your Children At All Times.
The best and surest way wipe out or decrease to the barest minimum the child rivalry issue in your family is to make sure you pray for all your children every day. Commit them always to the hand of the Almighty God who created them as He alone knows their spiritual and physical configuration better than any doctor or psychologist does.
It is natural for siblings to go through the fighting phase before they can truly understand their love for each other. Show your children how they are important for each other and how they can participate in various fun activities together. Love your children equally to help them feel secure.