How to handle sibling rivalry

How to handle sibling rivalry

If there is more than one child in your household, chances are that at some point you will have to handle sibling rivalry. Several factors can determine how often and how severe the rivalry may be. Age and gender can play an important role in sibling rivalry. You may discover that your children play well together for a period of several months and/or years, and then become mortal enemies! Take heart, though. This will, hopefully, not last forever.

What can you do to control the rivalry between your children? Well, you first need to recognize that there isn’t a magical cure for sibling rivalry. Actually, the rivalry between brothers and/or sisters is quite natural. Do you and your husband never have a crossword? How can you expect your children to be perfect little angels twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? This is the first point you need to keep in mind. Do not have unrealistic expectations! There will be times when your children will disagree!

How you deal with the rivalry between them, however, may make a difference in how seriously and how often they clash. Of course, no parent sets out to make a difference between their children. You do need to recognize, however, that each child is unique. They won’t always react in the same way to the same situation.

Keeping this in mind, you should not make comparisons between your children. Resentments can quickly build among young children if they think they are being unfairly compared to a sibling, and/or they are expected to live up to the qualities and talents of their brother or sister. Try to find ways to recognize each of your children’s talents. If you are praising one child for one talent, you can point out incidences that deserve praise from your other child, also.

Recognize that your child may have a reason to be angry. It is important to listen to your child as she tells you her frustrations towards her sibling-whether those frustrations are right or wrong. Teach her the right way to communicate the reasons for her anger. Once she has told you what has made her angry, then you can determine whether she is justified or not. You might begin by saying, understand that you are angry because…” You could go on to say that she may have a right to be angry, but she needs to react differently.

There may be occasions where you simply have to let your children work out their differences for themselves. Of course, you will have to monitor their behavior to make sure that the conflict doesn’t become physical. If tattling becomes a problem between your children, you may have to inflict the if you tell, you get in trouble, too rule.

Sometimes, your children may have just had too much togetherness. While you want your family to enjoy time together, there is nothing wrong with allowing your children to enjoy activities away from each other. Try to schedule individual time with each child. You can both benefit from the added time together.

You need to decide how to handle the inevitable small conflicts that will occur daily, such as who chooses the television show, who rides in the front seat, and who gets the first piece of cake. If you have a set plan for handling these issues, you can eliminate some of the common issues that cause sibling rivalry. You may want to let your children take turns choosing the television show and riding in the front seat. You may want to have one child cut the cake, and then the other child gets to pick the first piece.

Hopefully, you can head off some problems before they occur. You also need to recognize that your children will have bad days, just as you do. When they have good days, however, be sure you recognize those. Positive reinforcement can work wonders for the behavior management of your children. Let them know that you recognize their efforts to get along peacefully.

Finally, remember that there will be times and occasions where your children will simply fuss and fight. As they mature, hopefully, these times will be fewer and farther between. Until then, do your best to be fair and to spend quality time with each child.


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