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Curbing Siblings Rivalry in the Home

It is common for children, especially siblings to have fight one with another from time to time in the home. Debates and differences among siblings are what we refer to as siblings rivalry. Siblings rivalry begins from the inception a newborn is added to the family and the older siblings fear that they will take over their spot as objects of their parent’s attention.

Siblings rivalry is predominantly intense among kids of the same gender, of close age (about 2years gap), or where a child feels that he or she gets less and uneven attention, discipline, and responsiveness from their parent. The impact of sibling rivalry is not only felt by the siblings themselves but by the entire family. A child may feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby. They believe that their place in the family and their relationship with their parents may change.

According to kidshealth.org, “sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As kids reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly affect how they relate to one another.”

Signs of Siblings Rivalry

Parents, in situations like this, may feel frustrated and stress when their kids, battle, and siblings compete for attention or aids from their parents. Sibling rivalry, a continuous conflict among kids may be in the form of envy, fighting, name-calling, bickering, attention-battling, argument, Taking out their frustration on objects, pets or other people, etc. You know rivalry has set in when you hear phrases among your children like:

“I was here first!

“It’s my toy; Mummy bought it for me”

“Leave me alone…get out!”

What are Some Causes of Siblings Rivalry?

According to abcnews.go.com, “fighting for parents’ attention ranks dead last in the list of what brothers and sisters say they fight over. If you think about it for a second, this makes sense – even when all children in a family get plenty of attention, siblings will still quarrel

There are several reasons why siblings result in fighting. Most kids undergo some degree of jealousy or competition, which man times, leads to their feuds and bickering with one another. Wither factors that might also cause how often kids fight and how severe the battle gets includes:

1.) Temperament Difference.

In every family, kids have individual temperaments. They respond differently to situations and possess distinct personalities. Their mood, responses, adaptability, unique personalities, beliefs, disposition contribute to their reservedness or intimacy with their parent. For this reason, Kids who are attached to their parents for comfort and love might be resented by siblings who are reserved from their parents but want the same degree of attention.

2). Jealousy.

When Kids get special attention from you as a parent, and the other siblings recognize him or her as the ‘favored one’ in their parents’ eyes; this creates room for Jealousy, thereby making the other sibling look bad. This is what creates feuds among siblings and they resolve into tattling, name-calling, arguing, or even breaking and hiding something that is important to the other one.

3.) Parents’ Poor Conflict Resolution Skills

Children generally are very observant. If you as a parent often disagree and fight with your spouse in the presence of your Kids, they may be forced into taking a cue and learning from your demeanor towards your spouse as they precisely wouldn’t know any other way to handle their conflicts.

4.) Special Needs

In the family, you may have children with special needs, chronic illness, or emotional/learning challenges which may require them to have more parental time and some special privileges to such children. Their other siblings may see this disparity as been treated differently and show off to get attention and can also distort the communication line in the family if not handled properly by the Parent.

Ct.counseling.org suggests that:

To compensate for the lack of parental attention, the youngest child may develop certain personality traits — like humor, spontaneity, or gregariousness — to shift the spotlight onto themselves. They also tend to take more risks, since they have less to lose … And siblings — especially those close in age and of the same gender — can influence each other’s bad health habits. Younger brothers and sisters are four times as likely to take up smoking, for example, when an older sibling smokes. Drug and alcohol abuse follow a similar pattern.

– Heather Rudow

Ways to Curb Siblings Rivalry

Whenever there is a fight among siblings, Jennifer Shroff Pendley advises parents never to get involved but to step in only if there’s a danger of physical harm. He says:

If you always intervene, you risk creating other problems. The kids may start expecting your help and wait for you to come to the rescue rather than learning to work out the problems on their own.” He went further to reveal that there also is the risk that parent — inadvertently — make it appear to one child that another is always being “protected,” which could foster even more resentment and by the same token, rescued kids may feel that they can get away with more because they’re always being “saved” by a parent.” (kidshealth.org)

According to nationwidechildrens.org, Sibling rivalry is not all bad. In fact, it can be helpful because it can teach children how to solve problems. Parents are not to get too involved in their children’s arguments; they can’t also force children to get along but can teach them problem-solving skills and how to get along with one another.

Below are easy steps you can take every day to curb sibling rivalry:

1.) Set Ground Rules

Setting some ground rules in the home is an effective preventive strategy for curbing rivalry among siblings. Establish a set of rules conveys your family values and morals.

Ground rules like no name-calling, no abusing, no yelling, no use of foul language, no door slamming set a tone, and communicate your expectations about how you want your children to relate to each other. Common family rules are:

“Learn to treat each other with respect.”

“Learn to say sorry when you wrong others.”

“Do not take someone else’s property with asking first.”

“Everyone is responsible for his or her action.” etc.

Parents must request their children’s contribution to the setting of rules — as well as the consequences when they break them.

2.) Be a Role Model

Do you want to see changes in the Kid’s rapport with their siblings?

Lead by example!

Children are attentive and inquisitive. They observe and learn how we relate with our spouses in times of argument and conflict. We therefore must be role models to our children and teach them positive problem-solving skills of how to manage conflicts and relate with their siblings effectively.

3.) Reward Good behaviours

Rewarding children for their obedient attitude is an effective motivational tool.

Rewardswide.com suggests that “…setting clear rules and goals is no use unless there are some carrots and sticks to back them up. … Siblings hate when the other is rewarded in what they perceive to be a disproportionate or unfair way; so they might feel that they worked just as hard, but weren’t rewarded. ”

4. Encourage a Good Team Spirit

Creating an environment that gives every child a chance to express themselves in the right way is one way to foster a better rapport and curb feuds between siblings. Help your kids to develop a sense of empathy and respect for each other. Encourage your kids to

  • Listen before they speak
  • Treat each other with respect
  • See things from their sibling’s perspectives
  • Allow them to have their fair say before you punish or reward any behaviour.
  • Teach your children to be kind

5. Promote a Safe and Healthy Environment

Creating an atmosphere where the children feel is are safe, valuable, loved, and that their needs will be satisfied to curb siblings’ rivalry in the home. When siblings work toward mutual goals, they tend to get along better and not compete. Other ways to create a conducive atmosphere for our Kids includes:

  • Having recreational time together as a family. This helps to reduce friction between siblings and keeps everyone involved.
  • Recognize when kids just need time apart from each other and the family dynamics.
  • Do not choose sides during quarrel among siblings. Rather focus on the misdeed and enforce discipline.
  • Give your Kids equal and quality time and attention.

  • Encourage communication and mutual understanding among your Kids.
  • Be aware of developmental stages and growth.
  • Talk directly and privately with your spouse if you disagree with a parenting decision.
  • Give your kids some space.

In conclusion:

Siblings rivalry in the home is bound to happen with or without your intervention. However, your choices also can contribute to or even worsen if not handled appropriately.

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Kuru Jerry

Kuru Jerry is an Inspirational Writer and a Career and Counselling Coach, who has groomed and impacted lives through his teachings and works.

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