Sibling Rivalry is inevitable in families with two or more children. It is doubtful that you will completely eliminate it. There are ways to reduce it and manage it. I have four children ages 12, 9, 5, and 3. If anyone knows about sibling rivalry it is me! There is always something going on in my home between the children on a daily basis. It had gotten really bad and to the point it was driving me absolutely crazy. I was spending all of my time breaking up arguments and trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong. That is until I started researching the subject and finally found and tested a few ways to help prevent and reduce some of the arguments in our home.
How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry is inevitable in families with two or more children. It is doubtful that you will completely eliminate it. There are ways to reduce it and manage it.
What is Sibling Rivalry?
Common issues that arise with two or more children in the home usually have to do with competitiveness, teasing, bossing each other around, fighting (physical), and ignoring each other. A lot of this is natural and inevitable. Many children compete for parents' attention and time. Older children will try to boss the younger children around. Many times one will ignore the other and it causes problems. It has gone too far when it gets to fighting or physically acting out. Hungry, bored, and tired children usually end up in arguments and disagreements with siblings. Many times how parents act toward each other will affect how children act toward their siblings as well. If you are always angry at your children then you also have to expect your children to be angry toward each other. Sibling rivalry is challenging for parents and the children involved.
Photo credit: CC BY SA, Valerie McGlinchey, Wikipedia Commons
The Negative Side of Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry can be a bad thing when it happens all the time and the home is full of constant negative interactions among siblings. No one wants to be in a home that is constantly negative. Constant bad interactions between siblings can affect self esteem. Sibling relationships can also affect peer relationships. A child may not know how to interact positively with his friends if he only has negative interactions with his brothers and sisters.
The Positive Side of Sibling Rivalry
Though challenging, sibling rivalry can be a good thing. It teaches children about compassion, conflict resolution, compromise, and patience. It helps them practice survival skills. Arguments and disagreements are natural and inevitable among children living in the same house. The key is to help them handle their anger and emotions in a positive way so that they can learn from it. They can take these lessons learned and apply them to their friendships outside of the home.
Sibling Rivalry - Parenting Skills
Should Parents Intervene?
I don't think it is always a good thing for parents to intervene. I think giving the children a chance to work things out among themselves can help them learn from their experience. It is necessary for parents to intervene when things become physical or to keep things from becoming physical. Do not take sides, blame, or participate in arguments. This is where I was going wrong. Nothing positive came out of it. I would try to figure out who was right and who was wrong. I would never get the whole story and it did not help things when I would determine the winner so to speak. It just caused more arguments and disagreements. It reinforced the behavior that I did not like. I finally found ways to help the situation and have been using those methods successfully ever since.
Crisis Management – The “Argument Room”
Come up with a plan or way of handling situations consistently each time they happen. The biggest improvement I have made is to designate a room as an “Argument Room”. Whenever there is a hint of an argument coming I send them to the “Argument Room” to work it out. This way they get to work out their issue among themselves and the rest of the house does not have to hear every detail of it. They have a right to argue. I don't have to hear it. There are rules or guidelines that we have gone over with them that are active in the “Argument Room”.
- No yelling
- No fighting or touching one another
- Be respectful
- No bad language
- No name calling
- There must be a resolution before leaving
They know this is in no way punishment for them to go to this room. It is a way for them to work things out. They also know they will be rewarded if they do work things out and come to a resolution before leaving. I think it has helped them tremendously. They learn how to work things out among themselves in a respectful way. These skills will help them well into adulthood.
Weekly Family Meetings
Another great way to reduce the arguments in our home is to have a weekly family meeting. We implemented this about a year ago and it has helped our family tremendously. Set a day of the week that you will have your meeting and stick to it. The meeting only needs to be 30 minutes to an hour depending on the number of children and it needs to include all members in the household. No exceptions. Everyone needs to be involved to be effective. It is good to have an agenda for every meeting. Discuss events that are happening in the coming week. Discuss disagreements that have taken place and the outcomes. Take this time to explain why some things happened the way they did during the week or during certain disagreements. Give the children a chance to voice their opinions on things and especially on things that they may disagree with. This gives you a chance to discuss them as a family. It gives you a chance to explain why certain decisions were made or will be made. It is great family time that does nothing but benefit everyone involved. It has helped us with reducing the number of disagreements in the home. Try and see if it helps your family.
Tools for Your Family Meeting
|Our Family Meeting Book: Fun and Easy Ways to Manage Time...|
|Treasure Time - All Hands On Deck, a game to teach social...|
Resources for Help With Sibling Rivalry
|Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too|
When parenting authorities Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish sat down to write the national bestseller How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, they found that ...
|Siblings: You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Laugh & Learn)|
Brothers and sisters: they can make great friends, and it’s nice to have someone who’ll love you no matter what. But kids know siblings can be a real drag, too. Full-color ...
|Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry|
For most of us, dreams of family harmony and cooperation often give way to the reality of squabbling and fighting between siblings. In Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry, Dr. ...
Make the Best of Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is normal and inevitable when there is more than one child in the family. There are advantages and disadvantages to your children arguing. Don't always intervene in their arguments. Give them a chance to work things out among themselves and the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages. Try some of the methods I have noted and see if they help your family as much as they have helped ours. You will get through it and so will your children. They will always have disagreements. Even into adulthood. They need your guidance to handle them properly now so they will know how to handle them when they do become adults.