Sibling rivalry, every parent with more than one child deals with it. It can be one of the most frustrating and worrisome thing for parents.
I have been parenting for 15 ½ years now, and 14 of those years have been parenting more than one child. I have made a lot of mistakes in how I have dealt with the rivalry between my kids and I have made some good decisions as well. Here are six things I have learned along the way.
Older siblings don’t like younger siblings copying them
Whether the motivation is out of competitiveness or admiration, younger siblings like to copy older siblings. When the younger sibling is copying, the older sibling views it as having to share their image, identity, and own uniqueness. Try and encourage the younger one to give the older one some space and help the older one to understand this is most likely out of admiration.
Be careful of how you label your kids
Every parenting expert in the world will tell you this, but it really is true. We do it subconsciously and out of habit, so be aware of how you are labeling your kids both verbally and non-verbally. It impacts them much more than we realize.
The quality of their relationship is more their responsibility than yours
This can be hard for parents to accept, but the kids really do need to figure out how to manage their own relationship. When we give our kids the freedom to manage their own relationships it provides them with conflict and social skills, and also provides them an opportunity to bond with their siblings in their own personal way.
Give them space and freedom to be who they are
Their own identity and uniqueness is really important to them, so give them the space to express who they are in their own way. Avoid enrolling them in the same activities because it is easier or only giving them hand-me-downs from their older sibling. Look for opportunities for them to explore their interests in their own way and avoid letting the younger ones tag along.
Learn from your relationships
Use the relationship you had with your siblings to help you figure out how you want to foster the relationships between your kids. What worked well with your siblings? What do you wish you could have changed? What was wrong with your relationship? What things did your parents do that negatively or positively affected your relationship with your siblings? This doesn’t mean you manage the relationship, but as the parent you have a lot of control over the tone, values, and atmosphere in your home, so use those to guide your kids and their relationship.
Accept that there will always be some degree of sibling rivalry
I used to think that it was possible to not have any sibling rivalry, but now that I am 15 years into this parenting thing, I realize there is always going to be some amount of rivalry. The key is not to try and eliminate it, but learning how to manage it. Focus on setting a tone of love and acceptance in your home while also giving each child the individual attention they need. These things alone will help tremendously.
Our kids are unique individuals that really want to be seen and treated that way. When we give them the freedom to be their unique selves while also giving them to skills to build relationships, sibling rivalry will be much easier to handle.
How do you manage sibling rivalry in your family?