Ahhhh, summertime and the living is……EASY? Well, I guess that depends on whether you have children AND whether or not they decide to get along well together, at least that has been my experience as a mom! If your summer has heated up with kids, bickering, fighting whinning and tattle-taling – Here are some great tips for solving the problems associated with “Sibling Rivalry.”
The Big Book of Parenting Solutions
by Michele Borba Ed. D.
Fighting words and actions between brothers and sisters; resentment and competition; constant or intense intermittent friction and hurt feelings; family disharmony due to
constant sibling bickering.
The Change to Parent For
Your children will appreciate one another and battle less by learning habits to help them get along, share their concerns, and solve their conflicts peacefully.
Question: “My Kids constantly bicker, but whenever It try to help out, they complain that I”m not fair and accuse me of favoring the other sibling. I can’t win! How do I
help them get along?”
Answer: Don’t go crazy trying to make things equal among siblings-it’s impossible! And don’t have unrealistic expectations for continued harmony, because resentment is inevitable and sometimes unavoidable. The truth is, your kids don’t have to like each other or even get along every minute of the day, but they do have to respect each other’s feelings and be considerate of the need for empathy and stability in the entire family. If you stress that principle, you will increase the likelihood that they will get along. (After all, the benchmarks of any strong relationship are empathy and respect.)
“Mahhhmmm, Jacob’s touching me!” “Can’t we give Jennifer away?” “I hate my brother!” “Why can’t Sara find her own friends?”
Ah, the blissful sounds of siblings struggling to get along, Most of us have visions of our offspring being the world’s best buddies, but with kids living under the same roof, some bickering is bound to be the outcome. The closer your kids are in age, the more likely there are to be squabbles. keep in mind that research shows that kids spend about a third of their free time with siblings-that’s more time than they spend with parents, teachers, or friends. Although you can’t force your kids to like each other, there are ways to fend off some of those battles, and some skills you can teach that will minimize jealousies and help your kids appreciate one another, so that they are more apt to get along (and just maybe learn to like each other).
Signs and Symptoms
All siblings will squabble and have tiffs every now and then, but here are signs that their rivalry and battles are in need of an outside kick in the you-know-where.
Escalating arguments. Name-calling, yelling or aggression (hitting, kicking, punching) are intensifying; you can’t leave the kids alone with one another.
Increased animosity. Siblings are destroying each others’ possessions or relationships.
Deteriorating emotional well-being. One sibling or both feel less loved or favored; self-esteem and feelings of belonging as a member of your family are affected.
Family disharmony. Despite your best efforts, the relationship between the siblings is strained or the rivalry is escalating, and the conflict is having an impact your family’s happiness and stability.
Step 1. Early intervention
Discover the reason. Here are common causes of sibling rivalry and battles. Check any that may apply to your family and then consider if there is any simple solution to try.
Your kids temperament, personalities, abilities, priorities, and styles are very different.
Siblings have different parents, you are a blended family.
Siblings are not given opportunities to share feelings of discontent, so animosity builds.
Siblings are not allowed to explore their individual interests or have privacy; they have no “along time” to develop relationships.
Financial difficulties, marital conflicts, illness, or trauma lead to strained family dynamics.
Siblings lack vocabulary, skills, or maturity to solve problems or share concerns.
Siblings are imitating adult behavior. (You are fighting with your spouse, sibling, mother, boss.)
One sibling has specials needs or is overly aggressive or impulsive.
Identify the trigger. Try to witness-without their awareness-a sibling conflict. Tune in to their behaviors before the fighting starts.
What behaviors, perpetrated by one or both kids, escalate the situation, such as insulting, hitting, swearing, or biting?
What are the common battle issues? (For instance: both kids want to play with the same item or use the computer at the same time; each wants to watch a different TV program.)
Is there any solution you could implement that might minimize or prevent the problem? (For example, you might buy duplicate toys, arrange a computer schedule, teach a skill that might defuse the conflict before it becomes full blown.)
Once the conflict began, how did you respond, and how did your kids react to your response? did you escalate, reduce, or neutralize the conflict?
Is there one simple solution you can implement to reduce the chance that the same problem will arise in the future?
Take a reality check. Might you be playing favorites or putting too much pressure on one kid or another? Be honest Do you…
Expect more of one child?
Give one kid more attention?
Listen to ones kids side more or assume one kid is right?
Compare your kids in front of each other?
Encourage rivalry in academics, sports, or popularity by acknowledging one kid over another?
Pay equal attention to each child’s’ hobbies, friends, school and interests?
Distribute chores, rewards, and opportunities fairly?
Light up with the same intensity when you see each of your kids?
Take time to write a list of what you like most and what you like least about each child. If your list is more slanted to one side or the other, it may signal that you have a potential problem. Do you need to change your response? How?
Reduce sibling competition. Watch out for daily moments that may actually be setting your kids up as rivals. here are a few things to avoid because they can lead to resentment:
Never compare. Don’t say “Why can’t you bat like your brother?” A child may begin to think that he is inferior to a sibling in this parents’ eyes. “When your sister was your age, she always got all A’s.”
Avoid those labels. Follow this parenting rule: unless a label or nickname is respectful or builds the child up, don’t use it. Those labels (“Klutz,” “Slowpoke,” “Chubby”) can be self-fulling; they can derail self-esteem and remain with your child through adulthood.
Encourage teamwork. Stop those contests that force siblings to compete against each other. (Who can get dressed the fastest?” “Who will brush his teeth the most with week?”) Play more cooperative games where there are no winners and losers. Instead of making sibs compete, challenge them to beat the clock.
Nurture unique strengths and differences. Each sibling’s competing to define who he is as an individual often exacerbates sibling rivalry. So acknowledge each child’s special talent that sets him apart from his siblings. For example, if you have a child who excels in art, he’s the sibling whom you supply with colored pencils and sketchbooks and encourage to take art classes. The trick is to cultivate each child’s’ natural talent and then find opportunities to show it off so that both kids aren’t vying for the same “fame.”
Give a little privacy. If siblings spend too much together time (and it’s not their choice), then find ways to separate them or give them each a bit of his own space. If they share a bedroom, then divide the closet and even the room in half; give each his own desk, bulletin board, bookshelf, clothes, drawers, and toy bins. If possible, arrange their schedule to keep them separate (without your going crazy): different playdates, different swim schedules. Is there anything you can do to give them two “alone time”?
Acknowledge cooperation. When you notice your children sharing or playing cooperatively or trying to resolve issues peacefully, let them know you are proud of their behavior. If the children know that you appreciate their efforts, they are more inclined to repeat them. “I really appreciate how you two worked things out calmly this time. Good for you .” “I noticed how you both made an effort to help each other figure out how to put the DVD’s away. Nice job.”
June 16, 2014 – Part 2
STEP 2 Rapid Response & “The Five Simple House Rules to Curb Sibling Bickering”
June 23, 2014 – Part 3
STEP 3 Develop Habits for Change & “Teach “Fair Fighting Rules” to Help Siblings Solve Conflicts.