Whether you have girls or boys at home, there is bound to be some form of rivalry between them. Read on for solutions.
Do you have more than one child? Welcome to the world of sibling rivalry, a common issue faced by most parents. Sibling rivalry is not a new phenomenon, but an age-old problem even our parents and grandparents experienced. Also sibling rivalry is not an age-specific issue. Whether you have children of the same age or a few years apart, disagreements are bound to arise.
What causes sibling rivalry?
More often sibling rivalry surfaces when children don't seem to get enough of their parents love and affection. Just like grown ups go through a myriad of feelings and emotions, a child too experiences all this and more during his childhood. The flip side is that children don't know how to express these feelings and sometimes they manifest into sibling rivalry.
Of course, parents always hope for a picture-perfect relationship between their children. But the fact is that disagreements between siblings are unavoidable. It is simply a natural part of growing up. As a parent you might find these fights silly - but the child is learning important lessons of life like being assertive, honing their people skills, problem solving, etc.
Sometimes rivalry can also be caused with the arrival of a new baby at home. The older sibling goes through feelings of jealously as he sees the baby getting all the attention. The age factor also plays a crucial role in sibling rivalry. If the siblings are very close to each other in terms of age, it breeds competition between them. Just being a year or two apart, they go through common phases of growth thus compounding the rivalry between them.
The earlier this issue is resolved, the better. It might seem a tough task to control sibling rivalry but if you use the right strategies you will see it dwindling over a period of time. If the rivalry continues for a longer time or intensifies as the children grow, it could end up destroying their relationship.
What can a parent can do?
There are many easy yet effective ways by which you can resolve sibling rivalry. However, one needs to remember that different situations require different tactics and there is no common solution.
Get to the root cause of the problem
Kids crave affection. So a simple hug or display of affection could resolve the problem. Most kids want to prove their individuality - that they are different from their sibling - and you need to recognize and appreciate this. Sometimes the child may be either bored or tired and ends up fighting or arguing with his sibling. Even family dynamics could play a role in sibling rivalry. So if the parents are arguing and fighting all the time, kids assume that this is the only way to resolve conflicts. The faster you get to the root of the problem, the easier it will be to tackle the issue.
Freedom to handle conflicts
Give your children the independence and responsibility to resolve their own conflicts. When parents try and mediate conflicts they often protect one child (unintentionally) thus escalating the conflict. Try not to interfere in their squabbles as it would only end up getting worse. Giving children freedom to handle their conflicts would mean stepping out of the conflict and letting them find a solution. However, you have to set some guidelines on how they do it. For instance, they cannot hurt each other in the process of resolving the conflict.
Try a time-out if you find the fight is going out of control. Mark some place - maybe a chair or sofa - as a time-out area. Typically you need to send the child who started the argument or fight for a time-out. This literally helps the child calm down and sets off his thinking process. Once the child cools down you can carefully explain what he/she did wrong and apologize to the sibling.
Set an example
Be a role model. Learning begins at home and children learn a lot from their parents. So watch out the next time you argue or yell. Remember your child is watching you and will not miss an opportunity to step into your shoes and behave just like you. Try and nurture a loving and cordial atmosphere at home. This will go a long way in building a special bond as a family and between the children too.
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