How to avoid sibling rivalry

sibling rivalry

When you have more than one child, daily squabbles and constant competition can become a common occurrence in family life

Repetitive arguments can crop up at any time of day, triggered by the most frustrating things: “He took my toy,” or “she got to watch what she wants on TV for longer than I did!” After a while, this can start to wear thin not only on family harmony but on your sanity!

While siblings do tend to grow closer in later life, the early years of sibling rivalry can be very tiring. Whether this is because your children have grown jealous of each other or regularly battle for your attention, it can become challenging to deal with or find a solution for.

A certain level of sibling rivalry is healthy in any family; it can encourage children to develop problem-solving skills while teaching them to share and interact with others. However, if it becomes a bigger problem it can lead to your children not getting on at all. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to combat and prevent sibling rivalry.

Ben Edwards, a self-confidence expert and life coach, offer his top tips to help you iron out any differences:

Appreciate your children’s differences
Quite often, rivalry can occur when one child feels that their brother or sister is receiving more attention than they are, or that their sibling is constantly praised for something while they are ignored. One way to avoid this feeling is to appreciate their differences and congratulate them equally for their various achievements. Letting all your children know that there isn’t only one way to be successful or one reason for receiving praise will give them a greater confidence in their own abilities and less likely to compare themselves to their siblings.

Time away from each other is healthy
Another common cause of sibling rivalry is the fact that siblings live in each other’s pockets and while all parents want their children to get along in the same house, sometimes all it takes is a night apart to resolve any issues. What children often want is their parents’ undivided attention. If one of your children can stay at their grandparents’ or a friend’s house for one night, not only will the child at home get to spend time with you but the other children will appreciate having someone else’s attention too.

Encourage children to settle some differences themselves
For some issues, such as toy sharing, encourage your children to work it out for themselves but let them know the consequences if they don’t, such as that the toy will be taken away completely. Getting involved in every small argument will prevent your children working out how to negotiate with one another. This approach means you have still given parental guidance and disciplined your children but you’re also sending the message that you won’t pander to every argument and they won’t earn your attention that way.

Do address more serious issues
Unfortunately, sibling rivalry can also involve name calling or even lashing out in anger. Of course, this behaviour is not okay and can be particularly troubling for the family dynamic. To avoid this happening, ensure that you do step in for serious issues, firmly expressing that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. While it is sometimes tempting to ignore your children when they are arguing, doing so when a more serious issues arises could lead children to believe that they can get away with that behaviour in the future.

Be aware of jealousy
As adults, we know that jealousy breeds a lot of negative feelings and can make people act in ways that might be out of character towards those they are jealous of. It’s the same for children, except they can have less control over their feelings and actions. If one child is particularly gifted and receives a lot of attention, their siblings might start to feel jealous, whether that be due to the talent that their sibling has or all the attention they receive for it from their friends and other family members. Not all children are the same and it’s important for young people to learn that everyone is different from a young age. Being aware of any jealousy being bred in the family encourages parents to pay equal attention to all their children for their various qualities.

Should you need more advice for your family, visit Ben Edwards

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