If you’re a parent of more than one child, you most likely know all about the difficulties of dealing with sibling rivalry in your home. Even though it is a completely normal part of growing up, the constant jealousy, bickering, and whining that accompanies the struggles between siblings is enough to drive any parent crazy. Although we cannot prevent it completely, our responsibility as parents is to aid our children in understanding their feelings and help them to manage them as best as possible. Doing so will prevent the rivalry from escalating into greater feelings of injustice and victimhood as your children become adults. Here are a few simple ways to minimize the fighting and maximize the peace in your family.
Let siblings work through minor differences themselves - Show them how to solve problems or handle situations themselves, such as sharing or teasing. Teach your children how to express the feelings that motivated the fight, as this will then help facilitate and guide them towards resolving the fight without you always having to be the judge and the jury.
Be impartial whenever possible - When a parent decides which child is right, which is wrong, and what the consequences should be, it leaves one sibling feeling like the winner while the other one remains angry and victimized. This in turn prevents them from working as a team to practice the resolution skills that they’ll need to be successful in life.
Focus on each child’s individual strengths and talents - Each child deserves to be recognized as someone special, with unique skills and talents. Don’t make comparisons between siblings, as it will only lead to increased competition. Instead of pushing a child to rise up and try harder at something, comparing makes children feel unappreciated and unloved by you. In many cases comparing siblings to each other actually increases the fighting or leaves one child with feelings of resentment and lower self-esteem.
Set aside designated time for each child with your undivided attention - Make the time to do things separately so that each child can have some one-on-one interaction with you. Focus specific attention on each of your children’s own interests and needs, and make sure you give them their own individual time to spend just with you.
Give them some space - Try to give kids their own individual space, both physically and socially, to spend alone when they choose to do their own thing. All siblings should have the ability to sometimes play with toys by themselves, play with friends without always having to include their siblings, and to do their own activities at times without having to share every moment of their day with their brothers or sisters.