Parents since the beginning of time have been dealing with sibling rivalry. We dream of our children becoming the best of friends, but disagreements between siblings happen. While you can’t stop it entirely, you can reduce the frequency. Here are some tips to help keep the peace in your house:
1. Keep in mind it is natural.
Having to share parents, toys, snacks, etc. can be stressful and most children don’t have the tools to know the best way to handle those feelings. So try to be patient and explain to your little ones that there is plenty of love, food, and yes… even toys, to go around.
2. Spend one-on-one time with each child.
One of the top reasons kids fight is to gain their parents’ attention—and even negative attention is better than nothing. Make sure to spend individual time with each of your children, or just sit and snuggle. This will go a long way to helping them feel valued and loved, which will cut down on sibling jealousy and help squash any resentment that may build because of favoritism.
3. Stay out of squabbles.
When possible, let your children settle their own differences. Not only will this keep you from being stressed out by playing referee, but it will also teach your kids skills they will carry with them through life. You may have to step in and settle a spat between toddlers or preschoolers, but older children will probably settle an argument themselves if left alone.
4. Be clear in your expectations
Tell your kids what you expect of them regardless of their difference, such as, “Under no circumstances should you hit your brother”, “We don’t allow yelling in this house” or even something as simple as “These chips are for you and your sister to share.” Being clear and concise will cut down on confusion and hopefully the disagreements it causes.
5. Praise your kids for being nice
A little positive reinforcement goes a long way. Encourage your children by praising them when they are being nice to each other. Try to catch your children being nice to each other and praise them for it.
6. Treat each child as an individual
Each child is unique. They want to feel separate from their siblings. They will develop their own interests, skills and talents to develop their sense of self. Encourage this by treating each of your children as an individual. Avoid any behavior that could make it look as if you’re playing favorites.
Editor’s Note: Always seek the advice of your pediatrician or a family counselor if you have any questions regarding your own health or the health of your family.