Siblings are in a unique position. They grow up having to spend tons of time with someone relatively close to their own age, but they have no choice in the matter. Siblings can be very different, and sometimes this can cause trouble.
While you may not be able to completely avoid sibling rivalry, understanding its causes can help you thwart it:
Some children are prepared for another baby in the family. But sometimes, the attention a new addition gets is enough to foster jealousy that may linger for years.
Kids can often get upset if they think someone else is receiving special treatment. However, they know sometimes it is warranted. They often make a stink if they think something is unfair.
Children can also be bothered if siblings are spending more time with Mom and Dad, or if they get to do something special that they do not. Here is how to stop this:
-Base things on a child’s age, interests and abilities, not just on “equality”. This should apply to rewards, activities and punishments.
-Pay little attention to minor things like complaints about portion sizes. If complaints become too frequent, try this: have one child cut a snack in half, and the other chooses which half they eat. Guaranteed to resolve most conflicts!
-Do not compare your kids as being better or worse. Your children are different, and this is good.
-Explain that boasting is not nice, but mean. You can be proud of something, but bragging can cause hurt feelings.
Sometimes siblings may continually engage in minor spats over the most trivial things. Sometimes the point may not be the conflict itself, but rather an attempt to get attention. Obviously you cannot resolve every fight your children have, but these steps might help:
-Keep to yourself. It might be tempting to try and break up fights, but if you do this, kids will never learn to negotiate or make compromises on their own. As long as nobody is getting hurt, you can let them work it out on their own.
-Refuse to take sides if you didn’t see what happened. It might be easy to jump to conclusions, but get input from both kids before you set any punishments. Ask questions of both children. Find out what they wanted to happen, and what went wrong.
-Try blaming the cause of the conflict, not the kids. If fights occur frequently over TV, the computer or certain toys, maybe those items should be off-limits for a while. This may teach kids to value them more.
When kids share rooms or toys, there may be arguments over whose clothes or possessions are whose. Here are some ways to reduce that:
-Have a spot where every child has just their own things. This can be a shelf, a bookcase, a toy chest or virtually anything. It gives them a sense of self.
-If there are arguments over a toy, use a timer. Try going in 20 minute increments. Similar rules apply for television. One child can pick a show, then the other takes a turn.
By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to diffuse even the most heated battles between your kids!