(Written by Micah Abraham) Sibling rivalry is not necessarily a problem. It’s a normal part of aging for a lot of families and it may even breed healthy competition. It’s strongly believed that a little bit of competitive spirit can be healthy, because it creates an internal motivation that can actually make your children better students, harder workers, and more.
Good Parenting Skills For Sibling Rivalry
But when sibling rivalry gets out of hand, it can become a detriment to your child’s development. When that occurs, it’s important to develop ways to control their rivalry tendencies. Some strategies may take a while to enact, but there are effective and good parenting skills parents can use right now that can quickly reduce sibling rivalry. These include:
• Give Them Their Own Friends
When your children have no other friends but each other, it allows their environment to become more toxic without any breaks. When they have their own friends, they’ll develop their own social support outside of the family, and that can help them cope with the stresses of the rivalry.
• Split Them Up
Reduce the time they spend together with you as well. Have a parent take one child on a walk while the other child waits with a friend or family member, then switch on different days. This can help the child feel a greater connection with you outside of the rivalry, so they’re not just tattling on each other all the time.
• Don’t Respond to Tattling
Tattling is the most common rivalry behavior, and it’s one that many parents have a tendency to reward. One child will claim another child did something, and if that thing was bad, the latter child will get in trouble. But tattling is its own negative behavior. Unless the behavior was dangerous, any tattling should be a get out of free card, and the tattler should be the one getting in trouble.
• Remove Responsibilities
It’s not uncommon for the older child to be placed in charge of the younger child. But if the older child is bossing around the younger child constantly, they need those responsibilities taken away. This can mean more work for you (you can’t tell your older child to do things for the younger child anymore), but it will reduce some of the older child’s power.
• Have Them Work Together
Developing team building is also important. How you do this is less important, but one method is to have an activity where one child has to do one part of the task, then hand off to the other child to do the second part. If the activity is fun, they’ll start to work together as a team more.
• Don’t Compare
Any time you compare your children you create more rivalry. So if one child is great at math, and another isn’t, never say anything like “do what your brother/sister did” or “why can’t you do this when your brother/sister can.” These make the child upset that the other sibling is better than them at these tasks.
• Intervene Quickly
Often a small argument becomes a big argument very quickly when your children fight too often, because kids don’t enjoy letting things go. If they’re playing a game, and they’re already not getting along, stop the game. They’re not going to calm down themselves, so it’s up to you to stop it from progressing.
Finally, make sure all of these changes you do with a smile, as though they’re no big deal. Children don’t respond well to anger when they feel like the other sibling is the one causing the problems. Maintaining a positive attitude as best you can should reduce the severity of the way each change is experienced.
About the author: Micah Abraham is a writer and co-owner of Great Leap Studios, a content marketing company in NYC. He is interested with good parenting skills and also helps take care of two amazing girls that fight all the time and are currently learning how to love each other and themselves. He can be contacted at his website at www.greatleapstudios.com.