On Sibling Rivalry
When I was in high school, I had a very good friend who just didn’t get along with his brother. They had nothing in common and even a simple discussion could end in fist-cuffs. Even as adults, they still don’t get along.
Sometimes, watching them, I totally get their irritation and frustration with each other, and other times, I wonder how they can stand to not talk to their siblings at all. I have two, a sister and a brother, both younger than me and imagining a life where we did not talk to each other at all is impossible. It would drive me crazy.
I would think that sibling rivalry in the right amount is very healthy for personal development. It has definitely taught me a couple of things. Which is why I often wonder if it was our parents’ attitude, or just that we had personalities that didn’t clash as much or something else entirely that resulted in a healthier sibling relationship for us than the one that my friend and his brother share.
I still don’t know the right answer is but as a parent, I hope to do everything possible to make sure my children share a special bond. I’ve read that sibling rivalry is at it’s worst if the age difference between siblings is between two and four years and significantly less if less or more. My kids are exactly two and a half years apart and at almost three and a half and almost one, I already spend majority of my day sorting squabbles.
I think as they grow older things will only get more challenging and I’m going to chart my game plan for then, using ideas and tips from my parents, friends, trusted parenting resources and my own thoughts on siblings, their relationships and rivalries.
Teamwork and Team Spirit
This is probably the most important lesson to teach our children – to make them realize that they will always have each other. I want my children to understand they are going to be best friends and that they have to look out for each other and be each other’s cheering squads as well as a shoulder to cry on – be a team.
- Constantly talking to them about it
- Encouraging them to do activities together
- Encouraging and applauding cooperative behavior
- Setting an example
Conflict Resolution: Anger Management, Negotiation and Effective Communication
The other important thing I want my children to realize, early on, is that sibling rivalry is perfectly normal, and that it’s okay to get mad at, and not want to talk to, your sibling for a little while. That they can and should find a solution themselves. I would like for them to sort out their own issues themselves without screaming or violence but also that when they cannot seem to agree, they should ask for intervention.
- Stay out of sibling fights
- React calmly, positively
- Encourage talking about feelings and communicating them positively
- Reaffirm acceptable and positive actions
- Intervene when needed, fairly and equally
- Lead through example for conflict resolution
On a daily basis, I also plan to
- Avoid comparisons
- Avoid labels such as the naughty one, the angry one and so on
- Avoid pitting the siblings against each other – encourage cooperative, not competition
- Avoid forcing them together all the time
One other thing I plan to do is buy and read this book. Hopefully I’ll be all set to deal with and diffuse any sibling rivalry situations that arise.
How do you plan to deal with sibling rivalry in your children? Did you face sibling rivalry growing up? What kind of relationship do you share with your siblings?