Sometimes being a parent is more like working as a referee. If you have ever gone on a long car ride with your children or even just sat through a long dinner, you know that the claws are sure to come out eventually. Even a super parent is unable to settle these tiny squabbles every time.
There are quite a few factors that might be causing sibling rivalry. Kids close in age are more likely to argue incessantly than those further apart. This is usually the case unless one child is put in charge of another one. The way parents treat children can also play into this dynamic. A father who spends more time with his son than his daughter may very well contribute to tension between the two. Sometimes it is a matter of simple personality differences.
One way to prevent sibling rivalry is to start the relationship on the right foot. This means that you should be introducing the children before the younger one is even born. Talk about how great of a sibling the older child is going to be. Talk about the changes that will occur when the new baby is born. Get the older child involved in caretaking, whether it is changing nappys or keeping the baby entertained. This helps the older child feel like a valuable part of the family.
In some cases, it may be better not to get involved with the fight unless one of the children is at risk of physical harm. Stepping in to the argument is often construed as taking sides. If you do choose to step in, you should separate the children and give them some time alone. Another way to avoid taking sides is to avoid making comparisons between the children.
If things are really getting out of hand you can hold family meetings to resolve conflict. Set ground rules during the meeting and talk about the ways you can decrease conflict in the home. Everybody will benefit from a less stressful environment.
Validating a child’s feelings is always important. Instead of ignoring feelings and sweeping them under the rug, encourage your children to share their feelings in a way that does not hurt those around them. They get to air their grievances and feel as if they are not being ignored.
The truth is that most children are not going to be best friends with each other. While this is unfortunate, there are still some steps you can take to make the living situation more harmonious.
Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.
Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.