Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sibling Rivalry - What Can You Do?

Sibling rivalry is common among children. Many times when introducing a new baby into a family, the existing child will display feelings of jealousy. Even established families, with two or more children, frequently deal with rivalry between siblings. For example, I had my first two fairly close together (21 months) - they are opposite sex siblings and they FIGHT like cats and dogs.

As a parent dealing with this rivalry, you should not expect your children to overcome sibling rivalry and jealousy overnight. This is something that usually needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis, especially as your children grow older. My brother and I grew up almost as twins (he's exactly 1 year older) and we fought and fought and fought (I know the fighting between my two is God's way of paying me back). we grew older, we really grew to appreciate the other's strengths and companionship. We became friends in high school and have remained close ever since.

One way to help your children overcome their feelings of jealousy is to spend special time with each child individually. By sharing in quality time with each child on a one-on-one basis, you let them know that they are not in competition with each other. This can be very tough to arrange - especially if you have more than 2 children, but it is worth the effort!

When you are forced to referee, allow each child a turn to speak. Listen to their opinions and give each child equal time. Many times sibling rivalries can be easily resolved by just offering an ear. Frustrated children may not always know how to express their frustrations without becoming irritated. Teach them to use their words to express their feelings to you and each other.

Above all, never take sides. The last thing you want to do alienate one of your children and give the other one the idea that you are more partial to him than the other. This will only lead to even more sibling jealousy and just escalate the situation even more.

Lastly, help your children by offering them a simple solution. Even better, offer them questions to make them think about the conflict and come up with their own solution. This will help them work on their problem-solving skills and people skills at the same time. After all, isn't the goal to raise a confident, independent individual?

1 comment:

Robyn said...

You know what my thoughts are on that!