If you have children, you know that maintaining peace in your household can be difficult. One minute your children are getting along and the next minute they're at each other's throats. Knowing when and how to intervene can make a difference in how well your children relate to each other
Sibling rivalry typically develops as siblings compete for their parents' love and respect. Signs of sibling rivalry might include hitting, name-calling, bickering and immature behaviour. Children often display this kind of behaviour after the birth of a new baby. It can also happen anytime one child in the family receives extra attention or what's perceived to be preferential treatment. While sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up, many factors can affect how well your children get along with each other - including age, sex and personality, as well as the size of your family, whether it's a blended family and each child's position in it. For example:
1. Children close in age might battle each other more than children farther apart in age.
2. Children of the same sex might share more of the same interests, but they might also be more likely to compete against each other.
3. Middle children - who might not get the same privileges or attention as the oldest or youngest child in the family - might act out to feel more secure.
4. Children whose parents are divorced might feel driven to compete for the attention of the parent with whom they live - especially if step-siblings also live in the home.
Improving Sibling Relationships
1. Respect each child's unique needs:- Treating your children uniformly isn't always practical - and the harder you try, the more your children might look for signs of unfairness. Instead, focus on meeting each child's unique needs. For example, instead of signing up all your children for soccer or piano lessons, ask for their individual input.
2. Avoid comparisons:- Comparing your children's abilities can cause them to feel hurt and insecure. While it's natural to notice the differences between children, avoid discussing them in front of the kids. When praising one of your children, stick to describing his or her action or accomplishment - rather than comparing it to how his or her sibling does it.
3. Set the ground rules:- Make sure your children understand what you consider acceptable and unacceptable behaviour when it comes to interacting with each other, as well as the consequences of misbehaviour.
4. Don't get involved in battles:- Encourage your children to settle their own differences. Discourage tattling. While you might need to help younger children resolve disputes, you can still refrain from taking sides. When you need to discipline your children, avoid doing so in front of others - which can cause shame and embarrassment.
5. Anticipate problems:- If your children can't resolve a disagreement by themselves or routinely fight over the same things, consider helping them devise a solution. If your children regularly battle over use of the television, shared gaming systems or other gadgets, help them create a weekly schedule. Explain the consequences of not following the schedule.
6. Listen to your children:- Being a sibling can be frustrating especially during childhood, when the comparison is at its peak. Allow your children to vent their negative feelings about each other. Respond by acknowledging their feelings. If you have siblings, share stories of your own childhood conflicts and tell them that it's normal.
7. Encourage good behaviour:- When you see your children playing well together or working as a team, be sure to compliment them. A little praise can go a long way.
8. Show your love:- Spend some time alone with each of your children. Do special activities with each of your children that reflect their interests. Remind your children that they're loved, you're there for them and they can talk about anything with you.