Sibling rivalry – how to deal with it?

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Sibling rivalry is natural, not born of bad parenting. It has its good and bad sides. However, if it takes an aggressive form, it is worth remedying.

Why does sibling rivalry occur?

The cause of rivalry can be the difference in age, but also a conflict of interests. Such quarrels can be seen from an early age, when children can not reconcile their different opinions. Fighting for a toy or the attention of parents can be tiresome for us, but all these behaviors are quite common and natural.

A lot depends on the temperament of the children – one of them may be more submissive and the other more dominant or even aggressive. More fights will break out between siblings who are similar in age. Additionally, toddlers who spend more time together may also have more conflicts.

This doesn’t go away with time – siblings can compete to do better in school or sports. If both parties are equally ambitious, the conflict increases with age and takes on slightly different forms.

Jealousy of younger siblings, to whom parents devote more attention and time, also comes into play.

Does sibling conflict have its upside?

Children’s development is based on dealing with emotions, but also with situations that are difficult for them. Sibling rivalry has its pluses. These include:

  • faster emotional development,
  • better recognition of their own emotions and weaknesses,
  • fostering ambition,
  • building goals and working towards them,
  • learning to be consistent and developing new abilities,
  • greater resistance to stress.

Our child will not avoid competition. Even if he or she gets on well with his or her own siblings, he or she is bound to encounter it at school, among classmates in and out of the classroom.

It’s not good to avoid rivalry by force, but constantly provoking each other can do more harm than good.

Photo: Annie Sprat/Pexels

How to raise children without sibling rivalry?

Constant competition can lead to lower self-esteem and frustration. When raising children, it’s a good idea to set rules for how siblings should live with each other. Parents must not create barriers between them or favor one of them. It may turn out that the rest of the children will feel disadvantaged and may have self-esteem problems in the future.

It is worth emphasizing that it is good to have siblings because you can inspire each other and have a great time. You should also accept your children’s opinions and emotions and listen to them. Just because one party is older doesn’t mean they are always right. By teaching respect for older siblings, but also respecting the emotions of younger children, siblings will be able to establish a thread of understanding.

Parents should spend a similar amount of time with all children, plus choose days when each child will have their exclusive time. This is very important, because among siblings, the middle child or the oldest child feels rejected. Parents’ attention is naturally focused on the younger children, who are less able to cope with certain activities. Older ones, on the other hand, feel there is no time for their needs and emotions, so they draw attention to themselves.

To prevent conflict between siblings from escalating, it is important to emphasize our feelings and show attention to each of them. It is also a parent’s role to talk about emotions and listen to each side if possible. Then the judgment is fair and it is easier for us to help the children resolve the problem.

Children should also learn to compromise. The older one shouldn’t constantly give way just because of his age. Younger children may then provoke conflict situations on their own.

What about new family members?

When we are expecting another child, it’s a good idea to make the child aware of the upcoming changes. Don’t try to present the new situation in black colors. After all, the new member of the family will later become a wonderful playmate, and the older child will become an authority figure. Building good relationships and role models from the very beginning of the new child’s arrival will make sibling conflict less palpable.

It is also worth praising the initiative and achievements of both the older and the younger child. Our kids will quickly sense which of them is favored. Show affection equally to all children so that none of them feels rejected.

Photo by Ashton Bingham/Unsplash

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