Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Got kids?  Then you have quarrels, face-offs, competitions and even a few knock downs to cope up with – we know you are dealing with sibling rivalry. This term “Sibling Rivalry” is sure to send jitters in your veins. Every parent has to go through this difficult phase- where you try to maintain your self-respect while dealing with it. It is not uncommon for brothers and sisters to fight or quarrel, but that does not mean that they do not love each other; or yearn for each other. While many kids are blessed to have a “perfect sibling” relationship, it is not uncommon for other siblings to fight often. It is very stressful to see our kids fight like cats and dogs, at times it turns out to be physical abuse, calling out names, yelling, slamming doors or flares out into bitter fights as well. These are the testing times for any parent, while you sort out their differences at the same time not make any child feel low or left out.

The reasons for these fights are not uncommon to guess-toys, clothes, activities choice, TV remote control, electronic gadgets or the first chance on swing – they are really rooted in the struggle to achieve your love and attention.  These are a few tips which would help you in dealing with sibling rivalry:

Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Avoid getting involved

As far as possible, avoid getting involved in the fights. We should allow the kids to sort out their problems on their own. This enhances their problem-solving skills and communicative skills. Generally, the decision would be in favour of one child; then the other child feels let down, and dejected. This may lead to a situation that – you unintentionally – are giving out a signal that you are “protecting” one child and this might lead to more rebellious feelings within the other child. So, encourage them to sort out their problems amicably on their own. Invariably, at times, situations blow out of proportion, then ‘step in’ to solve the problems with them and not for them. Firstly, it would be wise on your part to separate the kids till they cool down. After that has happened, then talk to them and ask them to reconcile to each other.

Toy fights

Each child is attached to their favourite toy/toys & nothing can separate them from it. So, if anybody tries to, then they react adversely. The best “toy strategy” would be to allow each kid to keep their favourite toys to himself. Those become his private ones, having full authority over them. It is okay to have your own territory; it makes you feel secure. And making it clear that the other toys are common and both the siblings have equal access to them is also very important. This ensures peace and contentment to a large extent. Of course, they can share toys amongst each other at their own terms, that is their lookout. We need to remember that, when kids handle their disputes, they learn two important things-

  • Understand the sibling’s perspective
  • How to compromise and negotiate.

These are values which will remain with them lifelong.

Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Differences in the preferences

Each child grows with a different temperament, no child is the same psychologically and emotionally. Their mood swings vary; at times they might feel like going outside to play, or sometimes would just like to sit in one corner of the room and paint or colour. One child could be a tomboy loving to play outdoors, whereas the other one could possess love for baking. Fights over activities can turn into major brawls & struggles. It becomes a herculean task for the parents to make sure each child’s interests and preferences are honoured at the appropriate time. How to deal with conflicting interests?

Here are some tips:

  1. It is unfair on the parent’s part to dump an activity on the child just because her/his sibling loves doing it. If one loves painting, you can involved the other child to choose the colouring set, and let the other child practice her strokes. Involvement even in a small way will pave way to togetherness and unison.
  2. “Fair” and “equal” attitude is not possible in all situations. At times, one child needs more support than the other.
  3. Make efforts to give your kids one-to-one attention directed to their interests and wants, as much as you can.
  4. Most importantly, make them feel that their needs and wants will surely be fulfilled by their parents. So, this instills a sense of security in them.
  5. Make sure that the child has her own “me time” when she gets to do her own activity, without the sibling tagging along. This gives a sense of freedom and relaxation to the child.

Tough mess-ups

Your son has just completed his science project; ready for submission the next day, kept on his study table. Your little one one spots it; and wonders what this weird looking colourful thing is.  He lacks the impulse control to keep his cute little mitts off it. He starts exploring it; and bye-bye to the science project. Your elder one, not surprisingly, gets upset and yells; he has justified every blow; his long hours of hard work is shattered on the floor. It is an awkward situation where you know who the culprit is, but cannot punish him- don’t feel helpless. Make your son realize that the little one did not intend to do make you angry, he is just a baby. Keep your cool, have a totally relaxed attitude. Allow him to vent his anger on you, verbally, instead of taking it out on the younger brother, who does not understand what is happening. Next step would be to assure the elder one that he will be given a safe place to keep all his belongings.


Attention grabbers

It is your elder daughter’s Graduation Day programme; her special evening which she has been looking forward to from many days. You are all getting prepared for the grand event; rehearsals, grooming up the elder one and doing all the special things for her which will make her feel good. The younger one is watching all this; she wants to feel special too.  She starts throwing tantrums, that is the easiest way to grab attention of her parents. Sudden demand  for a new doll is also one way of protesting; to seek attention. The best way to deal with this could be:

  1. Make the child understand that it is her elder sister’s special evening, and make her recollect that in the past she too has had many special ones. This time it is the elder one who is getting a lion’s share of attention, so it’s okay to be on the other side at times.
  2. Make the younger one feel important by asking her to help you out with getting the bags packed for the evening, or packing some snacks for the journey. This can encourage her and make her feel one with the family.
  3. Make your child feel that your love is unconditional, and it has no limits or boundaries.


Nursing mania

Nursing the baby is a beautiful feeling as you wish to create an everlasting bond with the baby. The mother does not get much time to do what she wants, but nursing is the time when she is only belonging to her baby.  No matter how hard a child tries to be tolerant it is bound to be traumatic when the new baby arrives.  Your child’s jealousy gets the better of him and he starts acting crazy. These crazy times can be handled in such a manner which the child can easily adopt to. Keep aside toys especially the ones she likes, for the feeding time. And make it clear that she can get those only when she is at the best of her behavior.  Once this tactic is put in routine, you will be surprised to discover that feeding is the most peaceful and calm part of the day. In the midst of all this, be sure to make eye contact with your baby from time to time, as nursing is an important part of bonding. As you know the rest of your life your attention will be automatically split into half!

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