Sibling rivalry may seem cute when your children are young, but if you do not gain some control of the situation while your children are young, you may be setting yourself up to referee arguments as they get older. Dealing with sibling rivalry can be a very daunting task, but it is certainly possible to manage.
The following are some simple steps that you can put into action now:
Never Condone or Encourage Violence
There are many ways in which sibling rivalry may manifest itself. Although a small amount of sibling rivalry should be expected, be sure to observe your children to make sure that, if it exists, the sibling rivalry does not turn into sibling abuse. Make sure that your children understand that violence is never acceptable and that it also causes more problems.
Never Compare One Child to The Other
One of the most damaging things you can do is compare your child to one or more of his or her siblings. Be mindful of your children’s individuality. In most instances, you cannot parent all your children the same; remember, they are individuals. You may find it helpful to adjust your parenting style to your individual children to elicit the most appropriate response from your children, given the situation.
Spend Quality Time with Both Children
More times than not, sibling rivalry stems from the fact that the children are feeling neglected. The lack of a positive relationship with their parent(s) or other adult members of the family may be the cause of this. In these instances, one of the best and easiest things you can do is spend quality time with both your children, individually. Even if you have to include the entire family, allow each child to choose what they would like to do for the day.
Never Take Sides
As a parent you should play the part of a moderator, instead of a team member. If you find yourself constantly siding with one child over the other, you are making the situation worse and you potentially risk damaging the relationship that you have with the child that you do not side with.
If you have read this and are terrified and thinking that you are a “bad parent”; stop it, right now. What this simply means is that you need to be mindful to listen to both or all of your children to find out the details of what the situation instead of siding with one child and moving straight into consequences. An effective way to handle sibling conflicts would be to make your children sit in the same room, with no distractions, and use their words to express how they feel.
The aforementioned tips are a place to start. All parents, children, relationships and situations are different. Please parent your children in the manner that is best for both you and them. However, if things are getting too out of hand then it may be time to see a family therapist.