Siblings are often the best of friends and the worst of enemies.
What Is Sibling Rivalry?
Ever visualized the most common scene of the older child (irrespective of the age), getting uncomfortable at the thought of the mother getting ready to welcome a new member into the family household? You will hear frantic, derisive cries, notice haughty, uncontrollably rude behavior and more. And lo and behold, sibling rivalry starts right there! Stemming out of discomfort, it grows into added attributes of jealousy, unhealthy competition among siblings and frequent fights. This is usually noticed in families comprising of two or more kids and is often a cause of worry and stress for the parents.
Why Do Siblings Fight With Each Other?
No matter how common or how usual it is to see siblings fight with each other, yet as parents we’d all like our kids to be pally with each other all the time. So why do siblings fight? It is beyond any doubt that lots of these sibling rivalries start when one child gets conscious of the other receiving more attention. Some reasons that could spark of sibling rivalry are:
- Siblings could be jealous if one child feels insecure about the very presence of the other child
- A child could feel that he or she is not getting enough of parents’ attention and response
- Competition amongst the children – one child faring better academics, or activities
- A child could be jealous about certain attributes – like certain talents or interests
- A child might not be happy about extra attention given to another – though it could be because of different needs of the child
- Sex of the children is also often a cause – Rohan feels that his Dad is more gentler when talking to his sister
- A family where parents think it is alright to pick fights and aggression is normal between siblings is likely to foster rivalry among kids
When Does Sibling Rivalry Start?
The feelings of jealousy, competition and fighting between brothers and sisters start taking roots very, very early in life. In short, the very arrival of a second child, signals it and changes the dynamics of a family altogether. The elder child soon starts feeling left out, because of the constant attention the parents give to the newborn baby. And these feelings of jealousy can foster seeds of rivalry in the young, impressionable minds. Though it is a given that parents give most of their time and attention to the new baby to avoid any mistakes, yet a young child is not matured to understand this. Sibling rivalry is largely observed during the entire childhood span and if left unchecked, can continue into adulthood. However, working out things with your kids will make them closer together, be co-operative and appreciative of each other and consider other person’s point of view as well.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry?
Siblings tend to get aggressive with each other when an unhealthy competition sets in among themselves. One child faring better at school or being talented in a certain way, leads to the birth of jealousy in the other, coupled with a noticeable sense of favoritism showered by the parent, mostly due to parental pride about the achiever child, a behavior which the other insecure child silently observes and negatively reacts to.
12 Effective Tips To Deal With Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry when left unchecked by the parents, can lead to disastrous consequences and is it is best to make efforts to nip it in the bud. Few tips can be considered as a way forward in this approach.
- Don’t play the favoritism card: Do not play favoritism – every child could have different needs to so it highly probable for parents to favor one child over another at a number of times, this needs to be played smartly. As a parent, you have an enormous sense of responsibility towards not just your immediate family but to the society in general since you are nurturing individuals whom you have brought into this world and are training them to be better persons in this world. How much ever, you may have been overwhelmed when you became a parent for the first time (which always happens with the first child), don’t ever show these feeling of yours in front of the other child
- Check the competition: If you are sensing that one child is an achiever of sorts in various fields and the other one is feeling left out and is getting aggressive to show performance to beat it, then curb it right away. Keep a close watch on any such traits cropping up in the other child mostly due to a sense of insecurity
- Abstain from comparison: Never ever compare one child with the other and dissuade the people present in the immediate environment of the child from doing so. At times if, teachers at school tend to speak high about one child’s sibling to it, leads to a great sense of feeling lost and a rise in negative emotions in that child for its sibling
- Appreciate talents equally: One offspring of yours might be good at studies and the other at sports. Learn to appreciate both equally. Never make one sound higher than the other. Similarly, hold both of them responsible for anything that breaks during a fight, doesn’t matter who started it and do not get into clarifications. Remember, it takes two to make a quarrel
- Being a good observer: Make notes when and what time conflicts generally occur. Are the fights more or less when kids are hungry or when it is bed time? Changing a routine or giving them a small snack around that time might help. Say if it’s during the mornings, evenings or while playing a specific game etc. Reschedule each and every thing accordingly to avert an impending, imminent clash between them
- Spend quality family time: Whatever maybe your job profile, don’t forget to take time out for your family. Being involved is very important in today’s time and world, given the fast-paced life-style and both parents working to make ends meet in a nuclear set-up. Plan activities for whole family so that there is equal involvement from each and everyone enjoys. Here are some interesting ideas to spend weekends with your family.Always be there for your children, set alone time for each child if possible. A one-on-one session can make your child assured of your love
- Dealing with stress: Be attentive to the needs of the child if the child shows signs of stress and is seen to be restless. Do not yell at them or start giving lectures because you are tired or exhausted. Spend time with kids and engage it into positive activities for all-round development
- Teach them about co-operation: Siblings need to be taught about mutual co-operation which is any time better than mutual competition. Being co-operative with each other enhances their development in a broader sense
- Be fair and reasonable: Being fair is most important. Even though you treat both children equally, at times they will still feel they are not getting the attention or a positive response they need. Be prepared for such kind of situations and explain why the decision was made. Always pay attention to their conflicts so that no one gets hurt and also you may notice if any kind of abuse occurs. Keep an eye if children can solve their own conflicts
- Give respect: When you have a new baby. make sure you give your elder one the respect and seniority he or she deserves. In case of toddlers and older kids, do not give their favorite toys or blankets or pillows to the new baby without asking them. However, if you feel your elder child is not behaving in a lovable manner with the baby try to make it clear it’s not acceptable to hurt the baby
- Set rules: Be very firm and clear about what is tolerated and what is not. No abusive language, no physical harm, no fight in the car etc. Children need to aware of their limits, and always let them know what is permitted and what is not. Parents’ reaction to a conflict can make a huge difference how well the kids get along. Over the time they settle down and eventually the bonding between them will be visible
- Give them their space: Every child should have his own space. All kids want a chance to play what they want and do their own thing with their friends and not always with siblings. Encourage individualism and let them blossom their unique personalities
Parents and specifically mothers have a bigger responsibility to play in this aspect. From the very beginning, mommies need to sensitize the older child or children, about the arrival of a new member into the family right from the time that she is expecting it. Speak and increase in them the sense of caring and sharing together; speak more about the benefits involved in having a sibling alongside. Never let them feel left out upon the arrival of the new one. Don’t ever discriminate among them and this will help in curbing sibling rivalry.