Sibling Rivalry

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Sibling rivalry is a type of competition with jealousy and fighting between brothers and sisters, whether blood related or not. It may start very early, as the sibling bond is often complicated and influenced by many factors such as parental treatment, birth order, personality, people and experiences outside the family. 

Why Siblings Clash:

It is normal for siblings to compete for their parents’ love and affection. Signs of rivalry might include hitting, name-calling and bickering as well as, immature behaviour. It can often be seen after the birth of a new baby, but can also happen anytime to attract extra attention or when children perceive preferential treatment.

The truth is that some brothers and sisters bicker during their whole lives. Thus, parents should accept two facts; the first is that there is a certain level of noise and it is unavoidable, and the second is the necessity of teaching children how to treateach other respectfully and resolve their own conflicts.

What Factors Might Affect Sibling Rivalry:

As their rivalry is a natural part of growing up, the siblings fight for many factors that affect their relationship such as age, sex and personality, the size of the family, and the child’s position in it. 

  • Children close in age might battle more than others.
  • Children of the same sex might share more interests, but they might also be more likely to compete.
  • Middle children might act out to feel more secure.
  • Children of divorced parents might feel driven to compete for the attention of the parent especially if step-siblings also live in the home.

9 Tips to help your children have better relationships with each other:

  • Try not to foster competition:
  • Make sure to treat them equally with no comparing. Resist the temptation to compare children with each other. The classic line “why can’t you be more like your sister?” is bound to hurt feelings. Being fair is very important, but it is not the same as being equal. Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but fairness is to give the same privileges to all of them when they reach to the same age.
  • Try not to compare any child to one another.

For example, don’t say things like, “Your brother gets good grades in math—why can’t you?” Enjoy each of children’s individual talents and successes, and Let each child know they are special in their own way.

  • Acknowledge feelings:

Sometimes talking about a child’s feelings is all it takes to end a competitive bout. Start a dialogue by saying something such as “I know it hurts your feelings when your sister won’t let you go swimming with her.”

  • Set personal property boundaries:

It is important that each child has some exclusive properties, but some sharing is important to enhance the feelings of brotherhood and sisterhood. 

  • Set a good example :

No shouting and slamming doors between parents is an important example for children.  What children see you do will be how they believe they should also act and behave.

  • Have fun as a family:

Plan family activities that are be fun for everyone. Set some shared entertainments to do together as a family such as playing football or basketball, going to the cinema and travelling.

  • Show love and be there for each child:

Each parent should try to spend some one-on-one with each kid on a regular basis, even if it is at least a few minutes each day.

  • Listen—really listen!

Parents should try to listen to how children feel about what’s going on in the family.  

  • Teach how to resolve their problems

Teach conflict resolution skills during calm times. Do not make it as a lecture. Set your children a good example. Let them see that in conflict no hurting (hitting, kicking, pinching, etc.), no name-calling, yelling, or aggression is ever permissible.

  • Encourage good behaviou

If children are playing well together or working as a team, to praise them is a must to foster this good behaviour.

Twins and Siblings

Twins are often treated as a unit, rather than two children who have unique personalities, so they are sometimes dressed alike and have the same toys. Other children in the family might feel left out or jealous since they’re not part of this unique relationship so this will add another responsibility for parents who should be sure to spend plenty of special one-on-one time with each of their children individually. 

Twins should also be encouraged to play separately with other children. For example, arrange a play date for one of the twins while the other twin plays with a sibling. 

Remember, all siblings at times argue and fight, and this is very normal. However, by treating children as individuals, listening to them and giving them opportunities to resolve their own problems, parents will help lay the groundwork for solid sibling relationships.

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