Monday, March 21, 2011

Handling Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry. If you’ve been there, you know how stressful it can be. Sibling fights can be some of the most intense, heated arguments known to man- and 5 minutes later they are laughing and playing like nothing happened. But in hopes of avoiding some of those moments of sheer pull-your-hair-out frustration, here are a few tips to remember:

1. Spend time with each child individually. Yes, your children know you love them, but they still crave time with you alone- away from everyone else. Spending time with children individually will suppress the need to compete with each other for your time and attention. Try devoting 15 minutes with a special book with each child nightly. Avoid speaking about siblings during your one-on-one time.

2. Don’t compare. I talked about this in a recent post about handling losing. It goes for sibling relationships, too. Each of your children is unique and special- make them feel that way. Don’t compare them with each other, as doing so will only heat up the competition between them.

3. Model appropriate problem solving behavior. Children do what they see and problem solving is no exception. Model appropriate behavior by being calm and respectful of others, even (especially?!) when things become heated. Help them learn to take turns talking and listening to each other and compromising by showing them how you do this in your own life.

4. Know the difference between ‘fair’ and ‘equal.’ Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ for parenting and you just won’t be able to treat each child equally across the board (and you’ll go crazy trying). Being fair is a much more attainable goal because it can look different for different children. Fair means each child gets what he or she needs (or, in many situations, wants), and that is very possible in most situations.

How do you handle sibling rivalry?


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