Saturday, September 19, 2020

How to overcome sibling rivalry?

“Mom, she won’t stop annoying me!”
“I don’t want you in my room!”
Sounds familiar? If you have more than one child, the answer is probably “Yes,” because these are the sounds of sibling rivalry or sibling conflict. It can be frustrating, irritating and upsetting to watch and hear your children fighting among themselves.

A household that is full of conflict is stressful for everyone. It’s always hard to know how to stop the fighting, or even whether you should get involved at all. But you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help them get along.

“Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, competition and fighting between siblings. It is a concern for almost all parents of two or more kids. Problems often start right after the birth of the second child,” according to Wikipedia.

It usually continues throughout childhood and it can be very frustrating and stressful to parents. It starts off when a kid is protective of her possessions, like toys, and keeps them away from others. Then it grows to teens when they fight over clothes, getting same colours or trend of clothing and it eventually creeps to adulthood when it is the case of using one’s perfume, magazine, and clothes.
Factors contributing to sibling rivalry are where each child is competing to define who they are as an individual.

As they grow, they discover their personalities, own interests, activities and interests. So disparities occur when they want to differentiate themselves from other siblings. They start to feel they are getting unequal amounts of their parents’ attention, discipline, and responsiveness.

Family dynamics also play a role. For example, one child may remind a parent of a relative who was particularly difficult, and this may subconsciously influence how the parent treats that child. This is where inequality often occurs, where a parent takes sides.

Not having time to share regular, enjoyable family time together like meals can increase the chances of children engaging in conflict. Stress in the parents’ lives can decrease the amount of time and attention parents can give the children and increase sibling rivalry.

Stress in your children’s lives can also decrease their ability to tolerate frustration, leading to more conflict. How parents treat their kids and react to conflict can make a big difference in how well siblings get along. Don’t play favourites. This is usually a major problem among most households.

Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but if children understand that this inequality is because one child is older or has more responsibilities, they will see this as fair.

Even if you did try to treat your children equally, there will still be times when they feel as if they are not getting a fair share of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from you. Expect this and be prepared to explain the decisions you have made.

They fight because they want a parent’s attention, and the parent has only so much time, attention and patience to give. They fight because they are jealous: “She got new shoes and I didn’t. They must love her more than they love me”.

Many different things can cause siblings to fight. Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into squabbles and backbiting. But other factors also might influence how often kids fight and how severe the fighting gets.

These may include: your kids’ individual temperaments, including mood, character, and adaptability. Their unique personalities play a large role in how well they get along. For example, if one child is laid back and another is easily rattled, they may often get into it.

Learn to settle the dispute by giving fair treatment, for example, hugging them all because if you decide to hug one child because you side with her, hugs soon become somewhat meaningless in that family.

Parents should learn not to make comparisons. Remember everyone is unique! Don’t dismiss or suppress your children’s resentment or angry feelings.

Contrary to what many people think, anger is not something we should try to avoid at all costs. Deal with it instantly and fairly.

When possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences. Sounds good but it can be terribly unfair in practice!

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Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.