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Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

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Do you have more than one child? If the answer is yes, then you probably have had to play referee more times than you can count. Sibling rivalry, a common issue faced by most parents, has been around as long as there have been brothers and sisters.

Whether you have children of the same age or a few years apart, competition, disagreements and jealousy are bound to occur. As you know, sibling rivalry tests the most tolerant parent's patience.

Of course, parents always hope for a picture-perfect relationship between their children. But the fact is, disagreements between siblings are unavoidable. It is simply a natural part of growing up. Obviously, it's frustrating when your children are loving to each other one minute and ready to pull each other's hair out the next. Let's face it: children are hard to understand at the best of times, and virtually impossible when they fight.

Let your children know that sibling rivalry is normal. Since we're all individuals, unique and different, we won't get along with everyone. We especially won't always get along all the time with those closest to us. Close relationships such as those with brothers and sisters bring challenges, which can cause anger, sadness, frustration and so much more.

A certain amount of sibling rivalry is healthy for children. Trying to do better than their brother or sister is a way children exert themselves. The inevitable bickering that accompanies sibling rivalry teaches your children to stand up for themselves in the schoolyard, as well as helps them learn important life lessons like being assertive and how to solve problems.

Sibling rivalries may exist over privileges older children have, such as staying up later, getting to have friends over more often, or simply having more freedom to do things.

Meanwhile, your younger children are likely to be bossed around by their older brothers or sisters, be compared to those siblings, and at times have a hard time breaking away from the stigma of always being stuck at the kiddie table.

Let them know, being the youngest can be a positive. While they may never get to sit in the front seat, they often get to do things at an earlier age then their siblings did. Also, you're likely to be more relaxed towards them and, therefore, easier on them.

So what can you do to keep the peace? The faster you get to the root of the problem between your kids, the easier it will be to tackle the issue. These arguments between siblings get old really fast?

Figure out what is causing the problem. Kids crave affection. Sometimes just a hug or some other display of affection might resolve, or at least ease the problem. Most kids want to establish their individuality - that they are different from their sibling - and you need to recognize and appreciate this.

Keep in mind that sometimes kids fight to get a parent's attention. In that case, consider giving yourself a time-out. When you leave, the incentive for fighting is gone.

Don't let your kids make you think that everything always has to be equitable. Sometimes one child needs more than the other. If you treat your children fairly and dole out rewards and punishment as they are earned or deserved, they will learn to respect you and be less resentful when one receives more attention at a particular time. Children don't always need to be treated equally, but they do need to be treated uniquely.

What causes sibling rivalry?

While the causes of sibling rivalry in one family are almost never the same in another, here are some common causes:

  • Jealousy
  • New baby
  • Competition
  • Feelings of unequal treatment
  • Older child receiving more privileges/getting to do more than the younger sibling

Ways to manage rivalry between your children:

  • Make sure each child is given plenty of love.
  • Spend enough individual time with each child.
  • Avoid comparisons.
  • Listen to both sides of the story.
  • Don't dismiss one child's feelings over another's.
  • Try to let the children work it out themselves.
  • Praise your children when they play well together.

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