Although a good number of siblings become best friends from a very young age and even into adulthood, it is also common to have siblings who fight while they go back and forth between liking and detesting each other.
In some families, sibling rivalry starts when the first child becomes the older sibling of the newborn sibling. They start to droop and divide the attention from their parents. They now compete for almost everything: toys, food, and attention.
According to Wikipedia, “sibling rivalry” is a type of competition or animosity among siblings, whether blood-related or not.
As children grow, it is almost impossible for them to avoid fighting. So, as a parent, you can only learn to manage and contain it.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry?
Siblings fight for several reasons, but mostly it boils down to the following:
If one of your kids perceives that you are giving more time and attention to the other sibling, it will lead to jealousy that will in turn result in quarrels and fights.
It is unwise for parents to be biased in how they show attention to their children. Give adequate and equal attention to all of them.
Be fair to both kids, and listen to everyone’s side of the story. The kids will definitely notice whose back you are always on, and this can only breed hatred, just like in the biblical story of Joseph and his siblings.
Children little age differences may be more prone to being physical and verbal with one another.
We see younger siblings getting intimidated by their older ones while the older ones try to show authority.
How to deal with sibling rivalry
While it may be a common occurrence for siblings to fight, it can grow to become a huge challenge and a cause of significant discomfort at home.
In dealing with sibling rivalry, you must be mindful not to create resentment. Do not take sides with any of the kids, except if you see the particular child at fault. Everyone involved in the fight should share the blame for it.
Help them learn to resolve their conflict
Teach them practical ways to avoid quarrels and fighting, like learning to listen to each other’s needs. Rather than engage in name-calling, they should focus on the problem itself. Teach them to always make room for compromise.
If the fight gets too serious and out of hand, it is pertinent that you step in as parents, be a fair judge, and listen to them both. Give out discipline to the parties involved and teach them to be respectful.
You can teach your children how to show empathy for each other. Tell them things like “your brother loves you; your sister loves and cares for you.” Explain to them that you are all one big loving family and everybody’s feelings should be considered.
Be their example
Consider a home where there is no conflict; the parents are peaceful and avoid anything that could lead to a family fight. Children grow up emulating what they see their parents do, so be a positive role model for your kids. Make the environment accommodating and cooperative.
Understand that although they are all your children, they won’t exhibit the same character traits. Each child will showcase a different level of strength and weaknesses. Make them cooperate and work together rather than compete.
Avoid expressions that will make one sibling look down on the other. For example, “your brother is better off than you.” Find the most suitable way to communicate the needs of each child.
Set up rules that govern the family, rules that will let the kids know what is appropriate and what is not. If possible, put up a copy of the rules in their various rooms and at strategic positions in the house. Let them also understand that there will be consequences if anybody breaks the rules.
Sibling rivalry is still very prevalent in many homes, and while in some homes it has gotten out of control, the children no longer have respect for and show affection for each other. Other families have it under control.
Practical steps like those listed above can help curb siblings from fighting, quarrelling, and making enemies of themselves.
Everybody loves a peaceful home, and as a mother, father, or guardian, you can achieve it.