How Parents Can Deal With Sibling Rivalry

Every child has a different psyche. When dealing with children, parents must take care not to draw comparisons or show favouritism towards their children. This is usually the root cause of fights and rivalry that starts between siblings. Parents must love all of their children equally and not let them find faults with each other, feel superior or inferior. Sibling rivalry is a serious concern and can continue for many years if the emotions and the bond between your children are neglected. You can teach your kids to cope with their emotions from a very young age.

Why Should Parents Deal With Sibling Rivalry?

  • It won’t sort on its own
  • Your children develop poor relations with each other
  • It could lead to bullying and escalate fights
  • Your children could continue to fight as adults
  • They will stop caring for others
  • They harbour bitterness and anger in their heart
  • Their lives will not be satisfying
  • They could get hurt emotionally, physically, and psychologically

How to Recognize Sibling Rivalry?

  • Do you see your kids fighting, arguing, and getting violent with each other?
  • Do your children feel challenged with each other?
  • Meddle or break each other’s items?
  • Call names, blame, lie, and damage other siblings’ items?

Check Their Attitude

Parents must check the attitude of their children and see if any of your children have behavioral problems. You must know why are they fighting and get to the root cause of the problem. A few children just love to annoy to kill boredom. You can involve them in constructive activities and divert their attention. 

Do Not Neglect Or Dismiss Their Feelings

  • Don’t make your children feel neglected by dismissing their feelings
  • Listen to what they have to say and why they are fighting even if it is silly
  • Let them know the value of siblings and teach them to love each other
  • Teach them self-control and a way to communicate with each other even if they are angry
  • Talk with them and understand what they are saying
  • Provide a resolution without taking sides
  • Communicate their issues without showing any bias

Fighting Is Sometimes Useful

  • Do not suppress your children when they fight, teach them to argue constructively
  • Fighting constructively can help them learn conflict management
  • Teach them how to deal with power struggles
  • Make them assertive and teach them how to stand up for what they think is right
  • This can help them self-learn attributes, attitudes, and insights that will help them lifelong
  • Teach them negotiation skills and let them know when to compromise and when to put their foot down

Show Them Love

Understand why children fight and how often they fight and show them, love. Ensure that they do not harbour resentment from a fight and learn to fight fair.

  • Fighting teaches them important life lessons
  • You can teach them to be fair and not unreasonable
  • They must learn not to hurt anyone during a fight
  • Keep a check on their annoying behaviour and find ways to rectify them
  • Handle rivalry with care and do not make compulsive rules
  • You must understand that eliminating fights is not possible but you can teach them a lot of things whenever there is a fight
How Parents Can Deal With Sibling Rivalry
Image Source Thepragmaticparent/Pixabay

Give Each Child Their Space

As children grow they need their space to express their individuality. If you feel that the siblings are not getting along with each other for whatever reason, deal with them individually and give them less time with each other. Ensure that the time they spend, however less is without fights.

  • Involve each child in different activities of their interest.
  • Do not make them work together if the fights are intense.
  • It creates no competition and each enjoys activities at their own pace.
  • Understand the nature of each child and treat them accordingly.
  • If your kid is temperamental, your mind needs extra patience on hand to deal with them.
  • Do not do or say anything that creates competition or negative emotions between them.
  • Do not create gender bias as this could be the root cause of all the fights, be as impartial as possible.
  • Address their physical needs such as space depending on the size of the house you live in.
  • Do not be too harsh or too lenient, strike a balance that lets them have a harmonious attitude.
  • Give them enough attention and do not let the stress in your life affect their upbringing.
  • Respect their individual needs and treat them as special and equal.

During Transitional Times

  • When your kids are transitioning from school to college, be more open and friendly.
  • Let them be able to talk to you and feel that you are approachable.
  • Regardless of your financial and family circumstances, be as close to your child as possible.
  • Sibling rivalry could continue at all the stages of life so do not try to placate, rather balance the relationship and be as unbiased as possible at all stages of life.
  • If the fights are intense, you have to keep a constant check on your child.
  • As children grow older, you can nurture them and teach them fairness.
  • Children mature as they grow and there are chances that the rivalry could cease to exist but might not be the case all the time.
  • Analyze the situation at all stages and let stay connected to all of your children and attend to their needs so neither feels neglected.

Attend To The Hurt Child First

  • You can ignore small fights that have bickering or name-calling.
  • If one of your children is seriously hurt emotionally or physically, you must first separate both of them.
  • Pay attention to the child who is hurt first and console them.
  • Impose strict guidelines and let them know of the consequences should they deviate from the rules.
  • You have to teach your children coping mechanisms so they do not throw tantrums and get away with bad behaviours.
  • Keep a watch if they are getting any of their siblings into trouble. This is the behaviour that you must stop.

Find Ways To Calm Them Down

  • Take them out for an outing and let them explore outdoors.
  • Keep them engaged in constructive activities.
  • Build better habits in them and teach them calming techniques.
  • Do not be too controlling as things can get out of hands.
  • Teach them to control their emotions during a conflict.
  • Help them express themselves properly even during a fight.
  • As children grow to give them responsibilities so they learn the value of time and many other things.
  • Do not let them tattle, but encourage them to tell what is going on.

Check Your Own Attitude

Sibling rivalry is inevitable. Check if somewhere down the line your own behaviour such as pessimism, favouritism, etc has to lead to fights. Always try to stay calm in most of the fights unless the fight gets intense where you have to raise a voice.

  • Evaluate your own behaviour as well when there is a fight.
  • Do not punish them or blame them.
  • Avoid the blame game and be objective about the fights.
  • Get all the details of the fight before starting one.
  • Try to cut short the discussions and do not get into long discussions with them.
  • Teach them how to resolve conflicts on their own.
  • Your children must learn how to share as this could avoid many fights as well.
  • Never force any of your friends to be friends with their siblings if they do not want to.
  • Do not even crib about how they fight all the time, instead use constructive ways of communicating with them.
  • Use family therapy if nothing helps.

Final Word

Sibling rivalry is one of the most common issues parents have to deal with. It is a good idea to have realistic expectations about the relation between your children and try to create a balance without enforcing friendship between them. Check your attitude as well as behaviour as children tend to simulate behaviours and attitudes of their parents.

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