What is Sibling Rivalry
As per Wikipedia sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity among siblings.
It is essential for parents to know how to minimize sibling rivalry in their children. Some sort of sibling rivalry is natural. Almost all of us can remember some rivalry with our brothers and sisters in our childhood. Thankfully, most of the people grow out of that childhood sibling rivalry. Having said that, if that rivalry comes into adulthood it can break the basic fabric of our families.
The core cause of Sibling Rivalry
Some amount of sibling rivalry is natural to humans but psychologists believe that the core cause of sibling rivalry in children is over parental attention, love, and approval.
Children learn from their environment. Parents being the closest and immediate manifestation of human relationships can make or break the relationships of their children. If the child feels that he/she is not treated with equality be that in form of praise, love, approval or indulgence then the feeling of resentment for their sibling is quite natural. The way parents deal with their children not only affects them individually but the relationship among them is also guided by it.
Sibling rivalry has the potential to throw a person to the deepest abyss of hatred and malice. Almost all of us can give many examples of our families and extended families where real brothers and sisters are not on talking terms. Some of them can’t even stand the feeling of seeing their sibling be happy, succeed and prosper.
It’s the duty of parents to sow the seeds of sibling harmony in their families and take all possible measures to nip sibling rivalry in its bud.
Tips To Minimize Sibling Rivalry
Here I am sharing some tips for parents to improve healthy relationships with their children and hence minimize their sibling rivalry.
Have One to One Relationship With each Child
Having one to one relationship with parents is very important for each child. It satisfies the needs of each child to be loved and accepted by their parents. Therefore parents must have an individual relationship with each child.
Have healthy conversations with them. Listen to them, observe them and try to tackle each one of them as per their individual needs.
Ideally, both mother and father should spend one to one time with each child. Both parents can share any findings, if any, during their one to one sessions and then plan their future interactions according to that finding.
For example, if mother has found out that a particular child is conscious about his/her looks as compared to his/her siblings then she can share it with her husband and both of them can plan to subtly boost the confidence of the child.
Planning individual activities with each child helps a lot in building a parent-child relationship. When parents make such plans for all their kids then each child knows that parents have equal time and love for all of them.
Do not Compare & Do Not Openly Show Favoritism
Intentionally or unintentionally parents compare their children. I can myself recall many instances when I compared my children openly.
My daughter has a habit of whining a lot. Some time back I gave her comments like “You are always whining learn something from your brother. He is younger and still never whines etc.” I gave such comments a few times totally unintentionally and I never imagined that they have the potential of affecting my daughter’s feeling towards her brother. I noticed that within days she started to dislike him where initially she used to be fond of him. When I analyzed the whole situation I realized that actually, I am at fault here. After correcting my behavior and talking to her about my comments I saw instant improvement in her behavior.
In our day to day interactions, we keep on telling our children that this one of you is the cutest, this one of you is the smartest and so on. Such behavior act as a healthy ground for sibling rivalry. Secretly every parent has a favorite child but for the sake of sibling harmony in their children parents need to continuously monitor their behavior and curb any urge to openly make comparisons and show their favoritism.
You, as a parent, must ensure that you:
- Are not comparing your children openly.
- Tell them and show them that in your eyes all of them are equal.
Be a Role Model
Inculcate values of respect and kindness in your home. Be a role model for your children. They may not listen to you but they are always observing you. Be respectful and kind and openly happy for your own siblings, your spouse and your parents. Show your children how to be happy, for each other in a family.
Inculcate a Sense of Family
Use festivals, birthdays and other important days for the family to inculcate a feeling of love and happiness for each other. Involve each child in planning their siblings’ birthdays. Help them make gifts and cards for each other.
Show your children how to wish each other on important occasions. For example one of your children is participating in a game in school. Ask your other children to wish him/her like “Best of luck for the game I hope you will win.” Young children might not understand the implications of such small gestures but over time such gestures add up and help in building strong bonds among siblings.
You can expect some amount of sibling rivalry in your children, but if you see that sibling rivalry is beginning to harm the relationships among your children then you need to do some soul-searching. There is a big likelihood that your behavior as a parent is nurturing this negative behavior. The good news is with the right kind attitude and approach minimizing sibling rivalry is very much possible.
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