Combatting Sibling Rivalry

If you are a parent with more than just one child, it is inevitable that sibling rivalry will exist in your household. This can be an upsetting sight to witness but there are steps and tools that you can implement to promote peace. This blog will go through the reason why this is a common issue and how to remedy it. 

Why Does Sibling Rivalry Happen? 

There are many reasons why this does happen. Try to see it from your child’s perspective. The oldest child that was once the sole focus of your attention knows that this is no longer the case once there is another child in the picture. Their requests were addressed, their toys did not need to be shared and the quality time they shared with their parents is now divided.  This causes jealousy as well as a sense of competition. Because young Children do not know how to verbally express their frustrations, they do so by misbehaving and channeling their anger towards their siblings that are causing this divide in their parent’s attention. There are many factors that may run the risk of sibling rivalry: 

  • Children are attempting to define who they are as individuals.  As they discover themselves and their talents, they want to differentiate themselves from their siblings – which may lead to a sense of competition.
  • When Children are hungry, unstimulated, bored, or tired, they have an increased likelihood to be more frustrated and start fights. 
  • Children who do not know positive ways to engage with their siblings or how to start playful activities may resort to picking fights instead. 
  • Not having the ability to share in regular quality family time, creates a natural divide, and increases the chances of conflict among your Children. 
  • Stress in your Children’s life can decrease their tolerance and increase their frustration leading to more conflict.
  • The manner in which parents react to conflict influences their Children and how well their siblings will get along. 

How can I remedy or prevent Sibling Rivalry?

It is important to acknowledge that you cannot stop sibling rivalry entirely but can only reduce the number of incidents and its frequency. It is inevitable that conflict will arise. The below conflict resolution tips are helpful for any parent in a situation of conflict between their Children. At our ToBeMe Early Learning Centres, we also implement these tips in order to promote peace and Mateship – one of our core values:

Prevent Labelling 

Whilst we live in a society that is based on categorising and hierarchy, it is important to be aware that this habit is not healthy for young Children. Comparison may instill a sense of inferiority, jealousy and may eventually lead to hatred between siblings. It is difficult to rewire the way we think in order to not label our Children. Categories such as the ‘athletic one’, the ‘academic one’ etc.. help us identify Children’s abilities, but when Children hear such labels they inadvertently feel as though they are lacking in the other abilities and can feel demotivated entirely. 

Once categories are lost, and we replace these labels with positive comments rewarding teamwork, kindness, and thoughtfulness, Children can feel fulfilled and build each other up instead of fighting for their parent’s attention. 

Divide your time and attention 

You may have once heard the remark “any attention is good attention”. One of the main reasons why Children have strife is to attract their parent’s attention – even it if it is negative. We all have an inherent biological need to feel and be loved, and at a young age, this love is comes from the parent. 

To satisfy your Children’s love tank, plan on allocating 15 minutes of undivided, intentional attention to each of your Children every day. To make it extra special, let them decide what activity they want to do with you. This will be of great benefit for your Children both in the short and long term. Your Children will remember the experiences they shared with you over any gift or materialistic desire you satisfied for them. This same mentality is adopted at our learning centers. By dividing our classes into smaller-sized groups during activities, we give the educator more undivided quality time with each of their Children creating a greater sense of connection between all. 

Do not get involved – Easier said than done

You read it correctly. When your Children are beginning to disagree, turn a blind eye. This may surprise you, but it is necessary – to a certain extent. Ignoring the strife – given that it is not physical or harmful for anyone, gives your Children the opportunity to work out and handle their conflicts alone. What is more important in this situation is that you are not rewarding their negative behavior with your attention. We did mention before that any attention was good attention, and in the eyes of a child, they feel accomplished once your eyes are on them. In the case that the quarreling does escalate, look at the following 2 tips:

Calm the storm

If by ignoring the strife, your Children cannot return to peace, intervening is necessary. It is important as a parent to not take sides even if you know who may have been in the wrong. Once the storm is settled, take time to listen to both sides of the story and encourage the use of the words “I feel” as opposed to “they did”. Pointing the finger, not only aggravates the situation but prevents self-reflection. Once your Children describe the way they felt in front of one another, they may reflect on how their actions had consequences to the other person and can come to a compromise together. 

Equal consequences 

In the case where after adopting all the above steps and hearing both sides of the story, there is still no agreement, it’s best to give everyone equal consequences. For example, if a toy is causing this strife, remove the toy from them all. Children will realise that it is in their best interest to resolve the situation together as opposed to being robbed of the opportunity to enjoy the toy. 

Whilst sibling rivalry and conflict is inevitable, we hope you can implement these tips in your day to day parenting. Making your life that little bit less stressful.

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