Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sibling Rivalry: What's a Parent to do?

Nothing upsets a parent more on a daily basis than the constant bickering and fighting that goes on between their children. Togetherness can sometimes turn a peaceful and quiet home into a battleground. When my daughters would bicker, I used to tell myself “If you don’t see blood, don’t get involved.” There are, however, some helpful ideas parents can try to keep sibling rivalry at a minimum.

Set limits on how far they can go in what they say and do. Rules need to be made about whether the children are permitted to exchange put-downs or call each other names. Physical assaults, such as hitting and kicking should never be permitted. Children must know the rules and consequences for breaking the rules and must learn when parents say something, they mean it.

Give each child individual attention. A child who feels brother or sister is getting more time, attention or favors is likely to feel jealous. Help the child who feels this way by setting aside some time to be with him or her. Even 15 minutes can help.

Reduce Competition. As children get older, sibling rivalry may increase. Parents can help by avoiding comparisons and by assuring each child that every person has special abilities and talents. Get each child involved in their own activities separate from each other. One child can choose volleyball, another child can choose softball.

Encourage cooperation by recognizing it when it happens. If you see your son share his toys with a brother, tell him you appreciate it. “I really like the way you let Jason build blocks with you. That makes a nice feeling in our family.” Praise is most effective when you describe the behavior you like and why you like it.

Be fair. Being fair, however, does not always mean being equal. Older children may have more privileges due to greater maturity. Resist the urge to buy each child something new just because one child is having a birthday. Children are allowed a special day or celebration all to their own, as long as everyone gets their chance to be in the spot-light.

Check the home atmosphere. Probably the most important aspect of handing sibling rivalry is the home atmosphere. Develop a warm and loving relationship with each child. Spend time alone one-on-one with each child to help them feel wanted, loved and important

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