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How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry (5 actionable tips)
Having more than one child can be difficult, and not just because it’s more mouths to feed and more attention to give. But, also because your children could be the best of friends or the worst of enemies.
Now, I’m saying this as a mom of a 2 year old and 5 year old, both girls, and I know all children are different. So, take this with a grain of salt.
But, they are either loving towards each other or at each others throats (yes, even the two year old, she tends to start a lot of the fights).
Fortunately, there are some things we, as parents, can do to help our children avoid fighting….as much.
And, no, I don’t just mean to tell them to ‘be nice’. That doesn’t work, believe me, I’ve tried about a few thousand times!
Carve Out Special Time for Each Child
Ensuring that each child gets quality time with you, their own little special time, will help reduce the jealousy they may feel towards their sibling.
Maybe you have a child still nursing and an older child. Well, of course the older child is going to act out and be mean to the younger one. You need to spend more time with the younger one to feed them.
This is why special time is so important. Your older child needs to feel like they are loved just as much as the younger one.
(My 5 year old will even do something she knows she’s not supposed to and then blame it on her sister, to get her ‘in trouble’.)
Treat Each Child the Same
Inspired by my five year old, but she makes a really great point. Even at a young age, children like things to be fair….or they want to make sure it’s at least fair for them.
Your child doesn’t understand that the world is an unfair place when their young; don’t spoil it for them too early on.
My daughter gave me the examples of making sure her and her sister are treated the same by requesting; we spend the same amount of time with her as we do her sister, and giving her and her sister the same amount of food and same toys.
Obviously, you can’t always make everything exactly equal for your children. So, simply try your best and at least make everything seem like it’s completely equal.
Encouraging your children to share with each other starting from a young age can make a huge difference in how they behave when together.
It shows them to not be selfish and teaches that they will eventually get their toys back, even when they give them to others to play with.
Even 2 year olds benefit from being asked to share with others. It shows them that they don’t have to compete, or fight, with their siblings to get their toys back; they know that eventually they will get it back.
Children aren’t perfect, though, you may have to continue reminding them of this until they fully understand.
Going along with encouraging your children to share, encourage them to work together.
Maybe have the older child help the younger child. This will help the older child feel more important, smarter, and help build self-confidence while helping their younger sibling do something.
It doesn’t really matter what it is that they are working together on, it could be building a tower or coloring a beautiful picture; working together, or giving and receiving help, is a core character trait that should be instilled in our children as young as possible.
Having a sibling is great for building character, if you monitor how they behave and maybe have in place some guidelines. Either for them to follow, or for you to follow when they need help but aren’t able to communicate that they do.
Whether you’re making sure certain size clothing goes into one childs dresser and not the others, or make a chore chart so your children know who’s turn it is to help with the dishes; having guidelines in place will help ease your children into knowing what is what.
(Believe it, or not, my children are more likely to fight over helping me with dishes because they want to do them, not because they don’t!)
These type of guidelines are important for not only our children to follow, but also for us parents to follow, as well. Remember how our children like things to be fair? Well, it wouldn’t be that fair if we change the rules to favor one child over another, even if for one day.
So, when you choose these guidelines, keep to them, or have a family meeting letting them know when the guidelines change. Because, they will change as your children grow older. It’s important to keep them in the loop so they don’t act out and take it out on their sibling.
You Can’t Prevent ALL Sibling Rivalry
Don’t beat yourself up if you try all the tips above and your kids still fight.
When I was a kid, I had 2 brothers and a sister, and we fought all the time. And, not from lack of my mom knowing what to do; she ran a home daycare and took classes for this kind of stuff.
Siblings fight, that’s just how it is. Our goal as parents should be to keep the fighting to a minimum and help our children build character and grow into responsible and respectful adults.
Leave a comment to share how you help your children avoid sibling rivalry.