5 Tips For Handling Sibling Rivalry
OnePlusOne is a UK charity that creates resources that strengthen relationships.
When you have children, or in the lead up to their births, everyone and their dog have advice to offer for how to handle the sleepless nights, the midnight feeding and the tantrums that start with teething. That’s all well and (very) good of them to offer, but what no one seems at ease discussing is when siblings clash over rivalry. Even though, as you probably know, everyone experienced a little but of rivalry with their own siblings when they were young. So what to do when this situation begins? How can you get it under control before it causes long term damage to your children’s relationships with one another? Let’s find out.
- Realise that this happens to the best of us
Fairytales, movies and storybooks are full to the brim with stories of misbehaving, rowing siblings; Cinderella, Cruel Intentions, the Lion King, even the Bible featured the turbulent relationship of Cain and Abel, so the first thing you have to know is that you are not alone and just about everyone else’s little darlings spark up rivalry between them now and again. Before you turn to family support agencies, perhaps there are some things you could try at home to fight the war between them.
- Think about how you treat them
If you think about it there are plenty reasons why siblings may become rivals. Perhaps Daddy treats daughter with more sympathy or Mummy pays son more attention for his sporting achievements? Perhaps it’s an age thing and one sibling feels like the other gets more attention from Mummy and Daddy or perhaps the oldest child feels like there’s more responsibility on them as the eldest and that the youngest gets away with a lot more. You have to think of things from their perspective, and re-imagine how you felt as a child. Was there rivalry in your family, and if so why? Finding the answers to these questions could result in the answer – trying to praise each child equally and not laying blame on one and not the other. It’s all about striking a balance.
- Fighting the ‘it’s not fair’ game
Children just love to play the ‘it’s not fair game’; it’s not fair that their brother/sister gets to stay up later than them, it’s not fair their sister gets to go on a school trip and they don’t. This will always happen with children and you’ll drive yourself nuts (not to mention disrupting their day-to-day life patterns) if you try to balance out the fairness.
- Being honest
You must simply explain to the children that the younger one needs more sleep as they are younger, and that school trips will come with time. Being honest is the best way to deal with this. It may not stop the bickering, but after a little sulk they’ll realise there isn’t much they can do to change the facts you have presented to them.
- Don’t dismiss their feelings
You might want to quash negative words and feelings to create harmony at home, but feeling angry or resentful towards a sibling is a natural part of growing up, so you mustn’t ignore or dismiss these feelings but talk to your children about why they are having them and that it is normal.
A combination of being honest, letting feelings have a chance to be feelings and trying to treat children equally when possible are all ways to minimise the negative effects of sibling rivalry.