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Seven Tips to Alleviate Sibling Rivalry

Posted on 01 June 2018

When your kids argue, do you feel like the referee? If you are blessed with more than one child, then it won’t be a surprise to you that siblings bicker, pester and fight once in a while. Siblings don’t get along all the time. But when is it too much?

Often there are issues surrounding who does what, how old each child is when certain freedoms are granted, whether or not things are fair, etc. Not to mention the more basic, annoyances such as, ‘he’s staring at me too much’ or ‘she won’t let me have a go on the Xbox’.

As a parent, you will be well aware of the strains of sibling arguments. They happen for all sorts of reasons – mostly because children are different!

Seven tips to Help Your Children Get Along

1      Make time for each child so they feel important in your life

Sometimes the smallest thing can make a huge impact. For example, setting aside 30 minutes or so for each child to have some alone time with you. You’ll be surprised to see how relaxed a child becomes in a one-to-one environment.

2      Let children share a bedroom

Many families are now encouraging their kids to share a bedroom in order to foster good relationships about sharing. It also teaches children how to cope with other things – such as respecting other people’s property and privacy. Sharing a space means dividing time and toys, or even creating a special area in the room that is just for some solo time allowing them a space to breathe.

3      Encourage each child to take responsibility at one point

Imagine your teen and tween are having an argument. Instead of always feeling like a referee, ask your children what they think the appropriate response should be. Getting a child to think about the other side is a good way to encourage compassion.

4      Set limits on play

With young children and toddlers, the idea of injustice lingers on every decision. ‘That’s not fair!’ is regularly shouted as if a parent is actively choosing to cause disruption. Outlining very simple timings for toys and video games helps to avoid the issue in the first place. An egg timer set to 20 minutes will trigger children to stop and give another person ‘a go’ when the bell dings.

5      Foster a team spirit mentality

Family team building sounds a bit like a business phrase instead of a parenting tip, but Anita Cleare, author of Thinking Parenting, suggests that business relationships can offer parents a few words of wisdom. She states, “Kindness, affection and good communication all foster a strong sense of family connection. Every good business leader knows, communication is a two-way process – so that means remembering to slow down and take time to listen to your children without lecturing or jumping in.”

6      Promote empathy

This is easily done by simply acting in a compassionate way yourself. The way you socialise, the activities you participate in and how you respond to situations, all reinforce the way your child views the world. Also, from picture books to chapter books, using reading as a way to discuss empathetic situations is also very useful.

7      Minimise comparisons

‘Well Susie never had a problem with it’…you might find yourself saying to Billy about his maths homework. It’s an easy thing to do. You’ve been through Key Stage 2 Maths before and can’t remember spending this long on homework before. But how is that helpful for your child? Try not to compare children as they are almost never in the exact same situation. Remember that each child is unique and should be given goals accordingly.

Ultimately sibling rivalry is like many aspects of parenting – if left to fester, it can prove difficult to change. Keeping a few resolution strategies in mind is always a useful place to start. Try to reward appropriate behaviour, encourage all children to take a time out before discussing an argument or issue, and above all, try to be fair. The knowledge your children will gain from these situations will hopefully teach them valuable lessons in fairness and compassion when they become adults.