"You love her more than me”. “You are partial towards him”, “Nobody loves me”, “why just her, and not me?” these are some of the common complaints your siblings have towards each other, and those that you invariably try to resolve each time, only to see them surfacing again and again.
And most of the common complaints that causes rivalry between siblings are feelings of unequal love by parents, jealousy that emanates as a result of too much or too little attention to either one of them, or the rate of performance at school. Though, as a parent, you love your kids equally, the problem occurs when they sense impartiality, although you don’t mean it.
But for parents, treating kids equally is plain unrealistic: after all, they come packaged with different temperaments, interests, and needs. Sibling rivalry is a part of a child’s growing up process; in fact it is almost inevitable. The real trick to managing sibling rivalry is to build a healthy, loving and friendly bond between the siblings that lasts with them for a lifetime.
Some of the ways in which parents can create this bond between their children are-
Parents must make children understand that it is perfectly alright to have a difference of opinions, and of likes and dislikes as each of them is unique. All the more, it is necessary to respect each other’s personality and to work in tandem. Since we're all different individuals we won't get along with everyone, and that each one is gifted in some or the other field, and both of them, should learn from one another and be united. Anger, sadness, frustration competition, disagreements and jealousy are bound to occur, but love must precede everything else.
Parents, each child wants to be loved and when one of them is loved or is given more preference over the other, jealousy manifests. When introducing a new baby into a family, the existing child will display feelings of jealousy. At such times, it is important to have a one-on-one exclusive talk with kids, and to tell him/her that he/she is not ignored or forgotten, that love is equal, but that the younger child being small, needs extra care and affection. Younger kids do tend to demand more attention than the older ones. But if the elder child misunderstands this as you being unfair in loving them both, explain that though love is the same, each one of them is unique and cannot be compared.
Competition should be such that it encourages your kids to perform better and wherein kids learn the basic lessons of life which they can put to use in their school as well. Trying to do better than their siblings, is a way children exert themselves. The right and wrong of the fight, the arguments and counter arguments, the logic and assertiveness that accompany sibling rivalry teaches your children important life lessons how to solve problems. Teach them about the positives of healthy competition and the ills of comparison.
While your older kid may feel left out by the affection given to his younger sibling, and while the younger sibling may feel bossed around by their older brothers or sisters, you can instill in them a positive outlook that makes them see the brighter side of things. For instance by telling your younger child the many positives of being the youngest, including extra care and special treatment, and by teaching the elder child the positive of having leadership qualities, you actually make them feel happy and content with being the way they are.
Remember that sometimes kids fight to get a parent's attention. In that case, consider to stage a walk-out, when the fight is underway, as when you leave, the incentive for fighting would be gone. But at the same time, intervene where you deem fit. But remember, to not take impartial sides, as this can adversely affect a child’s psyche and can lead him into developing mistrust.
Don't forget to do one of the easiest secrets to nurturing sibling harmony: catch your kids supporting each other. Granted those times may be few and far between, but when your children do help, share, and work together, tell them how much you appreciate it. They're more likely to repeat those cooperative actions because they know you appreciate them doing so.
Quick tips to beat sibling rivalry
- Spend time with each child individually.
- Never compare, but encourage healthy competition
- Appreciate and nurture talent in each child
- Listen to both sides, and be impartial
- Encourage bonding and harmony
- Have a fun-loving, happy and a healthy atmosphere
Of course, parents always hope for a picture-perfect relationship between their children. But the fact is, disagreements between siblings are unavoidable. It is simply a natural part of growing up. So, the solution is to let your babies feel how important and valued each one is, and that bonding between them is of prime interest to the family.