Sibling rivalry can begin right after the birth of the second child. It can be a stressful, frustrating experience for parents but learning to handle conflict constructively can help. Sibling rivalry happens for many reasons as your children define themselves as individuals. For example some children may feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby, or feel a brother or sister may get more attention that he/she is.
Some survival tips:
- Don’t play favourites and don’t compare your children to one another.
- Encourage them to be themselves but also have some basic ground rules of respect, compromise, sharing, consideration, kindness to each other as family.
- Celebrate each child’s successes or milestones and their differences.
- Note if there is a particular time of day or situation where conflict may erupt. If a child is stressed or tired, fights could more likely break out.
- Teach your children how to approach one another and ask to share a toy or activity.
- To each according to their age: help children understand the difference between equal treatment and fair treatment. And be prepared to explain the decisions you have made.
- Ensure your children do fun things together but still have enough time on their own.
- If possible, try to have some individual time with each child, even if 10 minutes. Invite their conversation about the family and really listen to how they see things.
- Don’t ignore conflict when it occurs. Often children may be able to sort out their differences but younger children may need your intervention. If you need to intervene, give a warning to allow them time to make a decision. Set ground rules for acceptable behaviour.
- Model healthy communication and learn to manage your own anger and frustration.
- Teach your older children a simple process for dealing with anger or other strong emotions: Name it, claim it, tame it, aim it.(Name whether you are frustrated, angry etc and say it using “I am ….” Not “You make me…..; wait until you are a little calmer and them to share it.
- Avoid yelling or lecturing.
- Violent conflict needs to be acted upon immediately.
At Angel’s Paradise, we offer constructive ways to handle conflict and encourage each child to become familiar with how emotions affect them.