Every parent would have experienced sibling tantrums, if you have more than one child. You would have heard of words like, “you love her more than me”, “nobody cares for me”, “I wish my younger sister was not there”….so on and so forth and when we were children, we too may have said these words.
It is natural for children to fight with their brothers or sisters. Rarely will you find a house where there are no sibling fights. I am yet to find a house wherein siblings do not fight. Every child is unique and has different personalities, likes and tastes. They will be fighting for parental attention, food and even bathroom time.
However ridiculous the argument may be, they will fight with each other. This fighting leads to rivalry and if the same is not addressed properly, it may result in lifelong problems. Though it is normal to have sibling rivalry, you can still manage to keep your house peaceful rather than a war zone.
There will be times wherein you need to be the referee, while sometimes you need to ask them to sort out their issues amongst themselves.
- Let us look at some of the main causes of sibling rivalry.
- Find out the trigger conflict areas.
- Start very early even before birth to ensure the right bonding.
- Keep patience and good family balance.
- Resolve their differences calmly.
- Be fair to both genders.
- Help in raising positive siblings.
- Promote team spirit and empathy.
Let us look at some of the main causes of sibling rivalry.
Find out the trigger conflict areas.
If you carefully observe, you will be able to pinpoint the trigger areas. Avoid confrontations in these areas. For e.g., if you have children always fighting for things and toys, then it would be a good idea to distribute the toys or allocate time to each of them to play with these toys.
Ensure that there is a minimal number of common conflict areas. Also most children will have a common complaint as they would want more parental attention. If you have a younger child or a special child, obviously you will need to give them more attention but at the same time do spend some quality time with your other children as well.
Start very early even before birth to ensure the right bonding.
It is important to make your older child acquainted with the new born baby. Even before the birth of the child, you can talk to your older child about the good things that they can enjoy and do together. Get them involved in the things of the baby, so that they feel responsible for their sibling.
At the same time spend adequate time with your older child. Do not get completely involved with your younger child and forget the older one. Most of us commit this mistake, which leads to unpleasant memories for the older child. They feel left out and that’s where the problem begins. Try to avoid this problem right from the beginning and you will realise that the battle is half won.
Keep patience and good family balance.
When you have little children in the house, they are little lawyers who will demand equality and fairness. Older ones will complain about little time spend with them, while the younger ones will complain that the older ones get to go alone wherever they want to go. It is a never ending comparison and argument.
Avoid getting into their arguments and being a referee, unless they are in danger of hurting each other. Allow them to resolve their issues themselves. If you step in every time, then you are not teaching your children to handle conflicts and resolve differences. Also if the same child is getting punished or reprimanded, then there are chances of the child feeling resentment and bias.
Resolve their differences calmly.
In times when sibling fights get out of control, use the following tips –
- Separate the children and make them sit separately in different parts of the house.
- Tell them that they need to cool down and then only you will talk about the matter.
- Ask them to stop shouting and hurting each other and start talking and communicating with each other.
- Teach them how to negotiate and compromise. Show them how both can benefit by giving away a little bit.
- Give each child time to talk and put forward their side of the story.
- Don’t be judgmental but ask them to come to a common resolution accepted by all. You can give your suggestions to help them out. For e.g., if they are fighting for computer time, give them different time slots. You can also do the same for toys.
- Ensure that family rules are followed and adhered to. For e.g., no hitting, beating, using bad language etc.
- Don’t treat everybody equal but instead treat them as unique individuals and give them things which are age appropriate.
- Don’t favour one child over the other even if they listen or are more obedient.
- Give them the right over their possessions like toys, books etc. They should share things but don’t force them to share. They should have some things of their own which are special to them.
- Have a weekly family time wherein all the main issues are discussed, heard and resolved.
- Try having an individual special one on one time with each child. This will make them feel special and they will not be threatened.
- Do not compare your children.
- Use humour to resolve issues. It helps as children will laugh it off much faster than you can imagine.
Be fair to both genders.
It is important that you are fair to both, your son and your daughter. Try being fair to both genders and don’t make girls feel less and weak. Also teach your boys to respect and be sensitive to girls early in life. It all depends on how respectful you treat the ladies in your family.
Children are great observers and will observe and learn a lot from your day to day dealings on such matters. Ensure that you are a role model and teach them the right things.
Help in raising positive siblings.
You can get your children involved in taking care of their younger siblings, comforting them, teaching them their studies, drawing, music or sports. Encourage them to sleep together so that they will develop a bonding with each other. Family vacations and picnics are a great way of bonding and bringing your children together.
Promote team spirit and empathy.
Teach them the strength of unity and team spirit. Also teach them how they can win many battles by being together, rather than by being divided.
Further more teach them empathy and tell them not to do things that they will not like to be done to themselves. Help them to understand what it feels to be at the receiving end. They need to have empathy in order to become a well-rounded adult.
These are some of the ways in which you can bring harmony amongst your children. As parents, we are responsible for bringing up our children in the best possible manner so that they remain lifelong friends and support to each other. Remember friends come and go but family is forever. So we as parents need to bring them up on right values and ethics.
Please read our earlier article Top 8 ways of raising good teenagers without pushing them
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