It’s guaranteed that you have experienced sibling rivalry if you are a parent of more than one. Playing a referee in solving their quarrels is a constant thing! Many a time, twice a week or in some cases, it can occur several times in an hour. It’s exhausting, frustrating, tiring, and whatnot. But understanding that the rivalry is inevitable but manageable can help to some extent.
How To Fix Sibling Rivalry?
The first step is to understand the reasons behind it. Try to see the situation from your children’s point of view. For example, the oldest child may get the feeling of sharing their love and time as soon as the family starts arrangements to welcome their younger sibling. They may feel neglected as they were the sole focus of attention before. Similarly, the younger child can sometimes misbehave because they are tired of being bossed around all day by their elder sibling.
Learn to keep your calm. Keep an eye secretly on what your children are doing so you can intervene before a problem arises or escalates. Maintain your composure, and your children will learn to do the same.
The Solution To Sibling Rivalry
Keeping aside the fact that you can’t completely avoid it but can reduce its frequency and altogether the nuisance caused, the following points may help.
- Avoid Labelling Your Kids – Never compare your children based on any ability or disability. By doing so, we unconsciously shelve our children into one role or another, whether they want it or not. The goal is to praise positive qualities like teamwork, perseverance, and kindness. Instead of fighting for their parents’ praise, siblings can cheer for each other.
- Celebrate Individuality – If your children believe you appreciate each of them as individuals, they are less likely to quarrel. Spend some time with each child separately to show them that they are special to you. Then make sure that everyone has enough space and time to be alone.
- Family Time Is A Must – Outings, dinner with the family, playing board games, going to the park, and participating in activities are excellent ways for siblings to bond and create happy memories. These occasions provide them with less temptation to pick arguments with one another and allow them to spend more time with one another.
- Treat Them Fairly Not Equally – Fairness is important to parents, but it does not always mean being equal. Therefore, adjust your children’s punishments and rewards to their specific requirements.
What Else Can You Do?
- Punish But In Private – If a quarrel between siblings necessitates punishment, keep the talk private. It can humiliate a child in front of their siblings, causing them to become even more detached. Remember, this is not the time to make an announcement; it is the time to teach a lesson.
- Stay Out Of The Dispute – Yes, sometimes you really need to ignore everything and not pay attention to it. By doing this, you don’t reward negative conduct but also give them an opportunity to figure it out on their own. Stay away till the time you genuinely believe that intervening is necessary.
- No Violence Allowed – Make it clear to your children that you will not tolerate any form of violence between them. And praise them for peacefully resolving their disagreements.
- Listen To Them – If you want to settle the sibling rivalry being a good referee, you need to hear them out in detail separately. They should get the feeling of their opinions being heard and understood. Also, it may take you to the root cause of their fight and help avoid the same next time.
- Put Them In The Same Boat – If your kids still don’t agree after hearing all points, it’s time to put them “all in the same boat.” It implies that everyone involved in the argument must face the same outcome or consequence. There would likely be some complaining and negotiating at first, but your kids will soon understand that it is in their best interests to come to an agreement before you take any harsh next step.
Having applied all these formulas, don’t be shocked if other issues arise once the rivalry has been resolved, as the siblings will fight no matter what. The reason is, kids are always trying to attract parents’ attention and assert their influence. You could see mealtime drama, tantrums, backtalk, and homework clashes, even if they mostly live in peace. All this to some extent is totally normal!