10 Ways to handle Sibling Rivalry
When a child is born, it fills the house with love and laughter. As he grows with tender love and care from the parents and family, it becomes the central point of every activity. Parents try their best to ensure that its needs and interests are at the heart of everything the family does. And then, when another child is born, parents are overjoyed for being twice blessed. Their love knows no bounds, but their focus shifts.
The arrival of another child often, unfortunately, causes turbulence either in the elder one alone or subsequently in both the siblings. In such cases when children begin to experience rivalry with the sibling they find themselves distressed and helpless. Parents find it agonizing to see their children not being able to love another and instead wedged in never-ending quarrel. Sometimes children are able to resolve their differences on their own, but if their hostility becomes a regular feature and disturbs the peace of the house, it would be wise for the parents to intervene. Sibling rivalry is a very generic term; hence you need to find the specific thing which is causing the tremors among your children.
Here are 10 simple ways which would help to deal with the issue of sibling rivalry:
- Tell them they are special –
When a younger sibling is born the older one feels robbed of attention. However, at the same time, the older one has more defined activities where parents participate with concern, the younger one may feel unimportant. It is very complex then to distinguish whether the children are competing with one another or against your unequal distribution of attention. Reassure them by making them feel special and needed for their special qualities.
- Build their self-worth positively –
The children must be able to view themselves as healthy and able individuals. How they deal with the sibling depends greatly on how they cope with their own strengths and weaknesses. Never compare the children with one another. It demoralizes them, as well as brings about a sense of negative competition.
- Value their differences –
Each child is different, even twins have distinct characters. Understand the temperaments and inclination of your children. Your children may simply have separate view points which could be leading to hostility. Perhaps they both need to be explained separately, and in different ways.
- Be fair –
Give equal shares in what you divide among the children, whether it is the space, toys, treats or whatever your children view as a coveted opportunity. Sometimes a child may not be able to express, but there could be a grudge you unintentionally caused in him by not being fair in your practice.
- Find a win-win situation –
Very often, one of the siblings is more assertive and expressive about his needs than the other. In such situations a ‘quick-fix’ way which parents adopt for handling the conflict is by pacifying the more aggressive of the two. We must realize that suppressing the feeling of another child is going to cause irreparable harm. Parental intervention must always be balanced and hear both sides of the story. Let neither child feel favoured or ignored. In this way children learn to deal with disappointment and also the fact that they must be willing to give if they wish to get.
- Be firm –
Whether your children are young or older, they must realize the authority of the parent and respect it. Though you need not have an autocratic setup in your home, but it has great meaning for your children to know that your word is final. Since parents have a demanding professional life, and plenty of other responsibilities which exhausts them, they tend to give in all too soon when it comes to issues at home. It is understandable that they would try to avoid confronting in the interest of peace keeping in the house. But sooner or later when disagreement erupts, your voice must prevail. They should know you are in charge and not the other way around.
- Encourage activities for them to bond –
Find a passion the children share. There would certainly be activities that your children enjoy, common things like biking, going out for a movie, sports etc. Cultivate hobbies where they can both participate enthusiastically. It would bring them together and also build a bridge for them to shower love on one another.
A little variation would be to allow the children to be pitted against an external entity than one another. You could expect them to stand up for one another. Allow them to play in the same team, as brothers and sisters. The sweet bond of being together as a team always brings people close and dissolves differences. They will win together, lose together, and the most important aspect would be that they must be in it together.
- Have them do a selfless deed for the other –
This is an age old method of bringing people close and erasing scars. Let them do something significant which comes as a surprise to the other. And let that be repaid as a surprise too. Nothing melts ones heart than discovering a good deed done most unselfishly. It will sow the seeds of gratitude and love is sure to blossom among the siblings. It is a little parenting ‘game’ that really goes a long way. But you must carry it out with great care.
- Check your own disposition –
Resolve your issues with the spouse or any one else peacefully and respectfully. How you react to unpleasant situations and people around you is what your children are watching even without them or you realizing it. If your disagreements with the spouse always lead to arguments and severe trepidations, you cannot blame the children for being hostile to one another. They simply have not learnt a better way to express. Sadly, this is something many parents are guilty of at some point in time or other. Calm yourself and your own responses first if you expect it from your children. It is an inescapable fact that children reflect our own behaviour.
- Spread warmth and love –
Cold and indifferent environment causes a great deal of emotional imbalance in the children. They may feel insecure and could grow up to be insensitive. As mentioned before, sibling rivalry may stem from a source which lies completely outside. If you sense even a faint shadow of unconcerned and apathetic attitude in your house, dispel it with your warmth. Even a simple conversation may clear the air.
Practice and teach forgiveness. Children may be holding things against one another, and not willing to let go. Even when it seems like a challenge to forgive someone, show your children to get over differences and the value of love and kindness and help children understand the triviality of their differences. You must help them see in your actions and then lead them on to it. Be generous with your love. Acknowledge help, appreciate others, and give a gift without reason.
Such is the wonder of life that love does not get divided with more children, it multiplies. There is no such issue in a family which love cannot conquer, but there must be love in abundance.
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