Are your children constantly at each other’s throats? If you’re wondering how to deal with sibling rivalry, you’ve come to the right place!
Your children are constantly at each other’s throats and all your attempts to discipline them have failed. Despondent and drained you feel as if they will never get along and are destined to be at odds for life. Sound familiar? People will often advise you to let your children sort out their own differences, yet research shows that the amount of sibling rivalry in a family is determined by how well parents manage their children. Parents who respect children’s needs and feelings can develop positive sibling interaction and reduce sibling rivalry.
Children must be taught how to interact with others
Children are not born with an instruction manual on how to get along with others and be considerate of their needs. They need to be taught by you, their parents how to socialise. The first social interaction your child has, is with his siblings, and so teaching him polite, compassionate ways of interacting with his brothers and sisters will empower him for life. A study by Cambridge University into sibling rivalry shows that “the quality, as well as the quantity of conversations adults have with their children concerning thoughts and feelings, helps children’s social understanding to grow.”
Learning how to express feelings appropriately
Beginning with toddlers your role as a parent is like that of an orchestra’s conductor. You need to be watching your toddler, constantly guiding and showing them appropriate ways of interacting. They will copy your way of dealing with people, so if you are polite and gentle they will most likely be the same. Once your toddler has learned to be empathetic and express his or her feelings appropriately, it will not be necessary to get involved in a sibling dispute. Hopefully, your toddler will have learned from you to resolve disagreements without hurting his or her siblings. However, if a disagreement does escalate and your children are unable to resolve it in a peaceful way, you will have to intervene by way of teaching conflict resolution.
How to encourage conflict resolution
Set up three chairs. Sit yourself and the children down, and give your first child a chance to express his concerns. The second child then reflects back on what his brother or sister has just said. The second child then expresses her concerns and the first child reflects back on what his sister has just said. Once they have voiced their concerns, then ask them to devise a plan that will meet both their needs, and guide them into developing that plan. Remember, it’s important that you do not take sides, criticise, or give your opinion. Your job is to merely mediate a resolution.
Remember, family equals team
To lessen the amount of sibling rivalry in a home, it is necessary for parents to teach children that family is like a sports team that needs to work together, supporting and encouraging each other. If each member of a team is competing against each other, the team will not be very happy or successful. If parents are competitive and value competition amongst their children, it will add to the amount of sibling rivalry in the home.
Encourage your children’s talents
Parents should focus on giving each child one on one time by organising dates and avoid comparing siblings. Rather identify each child’s talents and strengths and encourage children to develop their own talents and support those of their siblings. Research by Brody and Stoneman suggests that “equal, but not necessarily identical, treatment of all siblings is key to successfully managing sibling rivalry.” Teaching your children to argue and resolve problems in a peaceful way is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, so do not fear sibling rivalry but rather use it as an opportunity to demonstrate good negotiation skills.