A Parent’s Guide to Sibling Rivalry Solutions
Sibling rivalry is natural, siblings are going to annoy each other. What kid hasn’t complained that the sibling was sitting too close and breathing “my air”.
Healthy competition among siblings is also unavoidable. A healthy competition can motivate siblings to accomplish chores, and finish homework. However, the fighting and tension can wreak havoc on precious family time and bonding if it escalates beyond the occasional boundary issue. So let’s talk about some sibling rivalry solutions.
Brothers and sisters have a precious opportunity to bond even if there is some competition and a little fighting. Consider these steps to increase the bonding and reduce the fighting.
Sibling Rivalry Solutions – Preventing Conflicts
1. Give each child special attention.
Sibling rivalry is often just a struggle to get noticed. I came from a family of 11 kids. It was easy to feel lost in the crowd when one or more of my siblings seemed to get most of the attention. Spend time with each of your children separately and regularly. Share their favorite activities. If one of your kids loves Minecraft and you are not a fan, try sitting with him or her for 30 minutes and ask about the game. It may be difficult, but it is essential to show equal enthusiasm for ballet recitals and football games.
2. Recognize your children as individuals.
Avoid comparing one sibling to another. Don’t ever say things in front of your children like, “Sarah is smart and Samantha is pretty” Because all Samantha will think is that she isn’t smart, and all Sarah will think is that she isn’t pretty. Treat them as individuals and acknowledge their personal abilities and strengths.
3. Teach conflict resolution skills.
Having a brother or sister is a valuable training ground for learning many life skills. Teach kids to compromise, treat each other with respect, and take turns. When my kids got in arguments, I often have them sit next to each other on the bottom stair of our stair case. They would each talk about what they could have done better in that circumstance. They usually work it out on their own with minimum prompting on the part of me or my husband.
Discourage tattling. Let kids know that telling on each other is against the family rules. The only exception is when someone’s safety or well-being is in jeopardy.
4. Be sensitive to potential triggers.
Milestones like bringing home a new baby or starting school can escalate tensions. Even every-day factors like getting too hungry or tired can make it more difficult for kids to stay on their best behavior.
5. Encourage positive interactions.
One of my favorite sibling rivalry solutions is to give my kids opportunities to say what they like about each other. We try to talk about the positive aspects of having brothers and sisters. Creating lots of cherished memories and shared experiences will help them to support each other during rough times.
6. Hold regular family meetings.
Family meetings make it easier for everyone to come together and work as a team. When kids get a chance to give their 2 cents, they will feel more valued and will become more invested in family activities, rules and routines.
Related: Tips for A Successful Family Meeting
7. Be a good role model.
Provide your kids with a peaceful environment. If you’re calm, cool and collected and free of snarky remarks, then your kids are more likely to feel the same way. Engage the whole family in activities to lower stress, like taking a long walk or listening to music.
Sibling Rivalry Solutions – Resolving Conflicts
1. Encourage children to work out their own differences.
See the #3 sibling rivalry solutions above. Keep an eye on your kids but let them take the first crack at settling disputes. Offer suggestions if they get stuck but give them a chance to make their own decisions. Teaching kids to work through their problems together, is essential in developing good relationships, and one of the best forms of learning.
2. Intervene when necessary.
Know when to step in. Physical fights, name calling and screaming will require some immediate attention. If physical or mental abuse among siblings is persistent, consider counseling to get to the root of the problem.
3. Help your kids to talk about their feelings.
Chances are, that your kids will get along much better as they become more proficient at talking about how they feel and what they want. Be patient with their efforts.
4. Guide kids toward win-win solutions.
The best negotiations make everyone feel like a winner. Maybe kids can take turns playing with a new video game or set up a rotating schedule for taking out the garbage.
5. Give advance warnings.
Provide gentle reminders when you see negotiations breaking down. If kids know they’re both going to miss out on an outing they’ve been looking forward to, they’ll feel more motivated to agree on who gets to sit in the front seat of the car.
6. Discipline children privately.
Take children aside if they need to be disciplined. Let them know that making fun of a brother or sister who gets punished is out of bounds.
It’s natural for kids to squabble and compete for their parent’s attention. Knowing how to defuse sibling rivalry will help bring more harmony into your home and teach your kids how to resolve conflicts constructively.
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