Sibling rivalry dates back to the origin of humanity when Adam and Eve’s son Cain slew his brother Abel. When siblings get along with each other, the house can be a peaceful abode. But if they constantly fight and bicker, parents feel like pulling their own hair in frustration.
Some amount of skirmish between siblings is inevitable as each one of them is his/her own individual with a unique personality and temperament. But if the fights are too often and start disrupting the peace and routine of the household, parents need to step in with some solutions.
Identify the Reasons
The reasons for sibling rivalry change with the kids’ age and evolving needs. A toddler may be irritated if parents are occupied with the baby brother or sister. School going children fight for toys, books, etc. Younger kids are usually in awe of their older sibling’s belongings and want to explore them. This annoys the elder one. Teenagers usually grow aloof as they are trying to develop their individuality and independence. They resent a sibling tagging along with them or having to share space with him/her.
The most common reason for fight though, in all ages, is trying to get parents’ attention.
Individual temperaments can also lead to flared tension as one or both might be irritable or may just be having a mood swing.
Another important reason for fight may be the parents themselves. If they are unable to resolve their conflicts in a peaceful manner and shout, scream, or argue often, the kids also pick up on the traits and follow in their footsteps.
The first thing to do when a fight starts is to stay out of it. Most of the time, siblings squabble and bicker over something for sometime, but very soon they forget about it and go on their ways as if nothing happened. The only time to intervene is if the struggle lasts too long or if there is a danger of physical harm to anyone.
Encourage your children to resolve conflicts among themselves. Even when you step in, do not try to solve their problem. Rather, give them a couple of possible solutions and let them pick. For example, if they are fighting for a toy, show them a way by which both of them can play with it or ask if they would like it to be ‘allotted’ to each one for a set time.
Time outs can be very effective in calming down flared tempers. Separate them for a while in different corners or rooms. Once the anger dies down, you can sit them together to resolve the issue.
Help Them Get Along
Set rules for shouting, name calling, etc. and communicate the consequences of bad behavior. Make sure each one of them gets some personal space and time where everything does not have to be shared. One-on-one time with each child also makes him/her feel loved and reduces competition for parental attention. Organize some fun family activities like a board game or a family outing where kids can enjoy in each other’s company. Praise them whenever they get along well. Last but not the least; never compare one to the other.
Photo Credit: Awakeningmovement.org