If you have more than one child, the chances are up to 100 per cent you have had to referee sibling fighting even if it’s over a using the bathroom or who plays with the stuffed toy. The fact is, even the best sibling relationships can have moments of conflict and friction. What do you do?
When you’re taking care of more than one child, it is normal to feel like a firefighter constantly having to put out fires and prevent flares from erupting. Sibling conflict and rivalry are a very normal part of growing up and it’s not unique to any family. That doesn’t make dealing with them any less stressful for parents.
So, how can parents ensure they get the benefits of early conflict resolution, as well as preserve their children’s relationships and maintain a harmonious household?
Stay calm, quiet and in control:
Pay attention to what your kids are doing so you can intervene before a situation escalates. Keep your cool and your kids will learn to do the same.
Set up an environment of cooperation:
Children often learn by imitation. If the parents aren’t getting along and their fights are accompanied by screaming matches, slammed doors, or silent treatment, it’s hard to expect the children to do any better.
Set a good example for your children to follow. Develop better ways to communicate with each other that are thoughtful, sensitive to each other’s needs, cooperative, and most of all, respectful.
Don’t play favourites or make comparisons:
Each child has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate their individuality without making them feel like they are being constantly pitted against each other.
Celebrate their individuality:
No child is the same as another child. Instead of comparing your children to each other, acknowledge their individual qualities and celebrate their wins. If one likes reading and the other likes dancing, be happy for both of them and try to be a part of their activities. This teaches children a valuable lifelong lesson; co-existence.
Listening can be the most therapeutic tool you offer your child. Next time they try to tell you about how something made them feel, tune into their words without judgement. This allows space for their emotions and avoids fights caused due to pent-up frustration.
Give children problem-solving skills:
It’s one thing to tell children not to yell at each other, and another when they know how to defuse and resolve sibling conflict and rivalry. Teach children how to calmly explain their feelings and their side of the story through empathetic listening and negotiating outcomes in a way that both parties end up satisfied.
Get professional help:
It may be time to call in the professionals if the sibling rivalry is so severe that it’s causing problems in the marriage, there could be a very real threat of imminent physical danger, and the conflicts are affecting the mental health and self-esteem of individual family members or the sibling rivalry may be linked to other negative psychological concerns such as depression.
Do you have any question or comment? Do share with us in the comment section.