Are you a parent being driven to distraction as your kids aren’t seeing eye to eye? Welcome, you’re in the right place.
Today we’re talking about sibling rivalry.
What is sibling rivalry?
Sibling rivalry is basically where there are arguments, jealousy and competition between brothers and sisters. It happens a lot with younger children but as kids get older, it can become quite vindictive – it’s important to nip it in the bud early on. Sibling rivalry is an imbalance of power where one child has control over the other. At its extreme it can result in a loss in confidence and your child losing their sparkle
Sibling rivalry is totally normal though. It’s nature’s way of allowing us, as children, to develop and find our place in the world (within safe boundaries). The key is knowing when to step in as a parent. It all starts when we are starting to work out who we are in the world. If you as a parent go in with the thought that every behaviour your child displays has a positive intention that can go along way.
A child asserting power over a sibling can stem from a child feeling threatened about their relationship with you – maybe they feel a loss of control or they just want your attention. Sometimes they can be acting out as a result of other things happening within the family – arguments, stress etc.
So what can you do?
If you want your child to learn, grow and be independent – don’t step in too quickly (provided nobody is in danger of course!). If you jump in too quickly they won’t learn about compromise and conflict. Your role is to make sure everyone is safe and that everyone is being respectful of one another. As a parent, try to remove all your emotion from the situation (which is easier said than done).
Here are 10 tips to help you navigate sibling rivalry:
1. No favourites
If one child feels they can get away with anything it will have already upset the balance. You may not realise you are doing it so just be mindful of anything which could give off this impression.
2. Fairness over equality
You can’t treat all children equally but you can treat them fairly. All children will have different needs and boundaries based on their age, etc so children will be treated differently, but you can treat them all fairly.
For example, an older child can go to town alone and the younger one obviously can’t but because of the child’s age it is fair. One child struggles with learning due to dyslexia so you help them more with homework – it’s not the same but it is fair as they need the extra help.
3. Avoid making comparisons
Its toxic. Don’t label kids – eg “You’re the sporty one/intelligent one/etc”.
4. Look for patterns
When are the arguments triggered? A certain time of day? Before certain activities? Could they be tired? Is there something specific happening in school on a certain day?
5. Family Fun
Have family days out, a movie night, Sunday brunch. Something where everyone connects and has something in common.
6. 1-2-1 time
Also make sure each parent spends at least 10 minutes 1-2-1 with each child every day. Playing a game, bath time, making a pizza. It doesn’t matter what it is.
7. Don’t step in to resolve the conflict
Watch them and see how they can manage it themselves. Don’t take sides and just allow them to try resolve it themselves.
8. Family Pow Wows (Family Meetings)
Make sure each person has a voice. Set ground rules – no laughing, no meanness. Let everyone speak.
9. Setting expectations
Make it clear the language you will/will not tolerate, violence you will/will not tolerate. Teach them that actions have consequences – “if you do X you will be grounded”. It draws a line in the sand and can stop them overstepping the mark.
10. Allow them to learn from what is going on
Work out where you need to step in – allow them to create their own decision making process. If you feel you have to get involved play the judge – remember there are 2 sides to every story – allow everyone to put forward their case.
A family is a team – we are all in it for the same goal: family support and unity. Everyone has a role to play. Maybe the older child could be the buddy/mentor who looks after the younger one – pitch them as a role model. It’s everyone’s job to be supportive of one another.
Much Love 💕