The constant sounds of whining and complaining, in stereo, are enough to make any mum beg for Calgon to take her away. Sibling rivalry, as unpleasant as it can be, is part of most every family’s life.
Each child naturally wants to be the center of mum and dad’s universe, and vying to achieve that goal, at all costs, can sometimes get ugly. Fortunately by taking a few proactive steps, you can head of the brunt of sibling rivalry before it rears its ugly head.
If you’re dealing with sibling rivalry in your home, following these steps can help each child feel like they’re the apple of your eye and eliminate the constant fight to be mum and dad’s favourite.
1. Remember that each child is a unique individual.
Children have their own personality, talents, temperaments and interests. All children are wonderfully unique. Remembering this as you parent can go far in minimizing competition between siblings.
2. Allow each child to have a few things
These things could be a favourite toy and blanket that are explicitly theirs. Everyone needs something that they don’t have to share. Having ownership of something allows a child to express that he is a separate and unique individual.
3. Have house rules.
Having a basic set of rules, that all members of the family are expected to adhere to, can go a long way in helping the children to feel like they are on a level playing field. These may include no hitting, no yelling, no pushing and other safety rules. Have age-appropriate consequences and strive to be consistent in enforcing them.
4. Let the kids work it out.
Unless things get physical, stay out of it. Allowing children to resolve small disagreements amongst themselves, like who gets to go first, helps them to develop their relationship and learn to work together. It also avoids you having to take sides or assign blame, especially when you may not have all the details.
5. Spend time alone with each child.
Whether it’s giving your child a bath, reading him a story or taking him on an errand, make a conscious effort to spend some one on one time with each child each day. Having your undivided attention will minimise the need to fight for it.
6. Have a system for earning special privileges.
Have a plan in place to determine who gets to sit next to mum at the restaurant, or who gets to sit in what seat of the double stroller. Keep track of who did what last or toss a coin so you don’t have to choose. Doing so will help avoid disputes.
Your children aren’t going to get along brilliantly all of the time, but you can help foster a healthy sibling relationship and cut down on sibling rivalry by following these proactive steps.