Having more than one child is a blessing. The kids have company. They grow up sharing and caring. Siblings can play together, help one another with studies, the older ones can even take care of the younger brothers and sisters.
There could, however, be some hiccups. One issue that might bother the parents could be ‘sibling rivalry’. Siblings would fight. It is common and healthy too. They might fight over TV, space, toys, pens, pencils, or other possessions, or even for no reason at all. The parents should ideally not get involved and let them sort the issues out within themselves, unless it gets serious. More often than not, they would call a truce in no time and let love win.
At times, there could be serious rivalry and competition between siblings. It might cross the borderline of being healthy, or normal. In case they begin continuously disrespecting one another, play ploy against one another, or even try and harm in some way, the parents must intervene.
The following is a brief discussion on 10 wise ways to handle sibling rivalry:
- Serious kind of sibling rivalry could be a result of insecurity. One of the siblings could feel inferior, or left out or believe he or she is loved less than the other siblings. It could be quite a subtle feeling and the individual might not even be consciously doing it or even realize it. Parents could try and find out if any of the children has developed this kind of complex. One way of knowing it is by having a heart to heart talk. The kids would open up if they are made to feel comfortable. Talking it out helps immensely.
- When there is extreme sibling rivalry, the first thing the parents must do is stay calm. If parents lose their patience, the situation would turn worse. Do not jump into conclusions at the heat of the moment and start punishing right away. Instead, make an effort to divert their attention to something else. For example, ask them to help you out in household work or give them something to do right away. This would buy some time and help things normalize. Once there is peace, talk to them about the issue.
- All your children are equally dear to you. Like you cannot prefer one hand or leg over the other, you cannot have a preference for your kids. All your kids are part of your soul and this must be communicated to your children as much as possible. Young kids might not understand this, but reiterating it would slowly make them realize the truth.
- Make your kids help one another, consciously. If need be, set some rules. Like, the older one must help the younger one in learning, or the younger one must assist the older one in cleaning rooms or making the bed. Make them accountable for their jobs and let them develop a habit of supporting one another.
- Sometimes, parents indulge in favoritism unknowingly. They could be a little strict with the older kids and liberal with the younger ones or the other way round. Parents must consciously avoid this kind of discriminating behavior as it sows the seeds of serious sibling rivalry.
- Children grow up looking at the adults. If they see their parents show respect, they would learn to respect. Parents must refrain from disrespecting any child in front of its siblings. Correcting their mistakes is one thing, and telling them things that hurt their ego or self-respect is another. Try and be careful about what you tell your children when you are angry.
- While parents must encourage the kids to spend time and do things together, they must allow some space as well. Treat them as individuals as they grow up and let them do their own thing alone sometimes. This balance between individuality and togetherness would curb serious kinds of rivalries.
- Keep talking to your kids about family values. The family stands by an individual through thick and thin. The outside world would always compete, but not the family. Family is what everyone turns to when one is in need. Siblings are a part of the family. The more they hear it, the better they learn. Make them applaud at one another’s success and feel happy for each other. Teach your kids to be empathetic, apologize when they are wrong, and express love from time to time.
- If two siblings are engaged in a serious brawl, rebuke or punish both, equally. One could be right and one could be wrong. However, they could resolve the differences peacefully. In case they blow the fight out of proportion, both are to be held responsible equally. For small kids, if they are fighting bitterly over an object, take the object away. Tell them none gets it if they quarrel beyond a point.
- Keep narrating to them stories about sibling love. Talk about your bond with your siblings. Read out stories that depict beautiful relationships among siblings. Hug them when they display love towards one another. Reward positive behavior and rebuke negative attitude.
Lucky are those who have loving and supportive siblings. When parents are old, the siblings can be there for one another in times of need. Any kind of unhealthy competition and rivalry is uncalled for as it becomes a hindrance towards having a strong bond among siblings when they grow up. The foundation of healthy sibling-ties is laid in the childhood itself. If, as parents, you smell trouble, address it at the soonest, before it spins out of control.