Why can’t they just get along? As a parent, sibling rivalry is so frustrating, but there are simple ways you can use to help reduce fights and enjoy some peace and quiet. Check them out!
Sibling rivalry is something 99.9% of families experience at least once, though for many it is often a daily occurrence. Defined as being conflicts between brothers and sisters from within the same household, it can occur for many different reasons including jealousy of the new baby, belief of receiving unequal or not enough attention, developmental stages, family dynamics, not enough sleep (check out our range of sleep aids to help with this) and stress levels.
Managing sibling rivalry is easier said than done, but we have put together a collection of things you can do which may help your kids get along better.
5 Ways of Reducing Sibling Rivalry in Your Family
Like us, you’ve worked out that telling your kids to stop fighting doesn’t work. Neither does yelling, time outs or bribery (well, only sometimes). We’ve done the hard yards and made a list of things you can do instead which stand a higher likelihood of working:
- Set aside individual time for each child – one on one time is so important and as a busy parent, is often hard to achieve. Try to spend at least 10 minutes playing and talking with each child a day.
- Establish family rules and values – together decide upon some family values and rules to follow. This can help reduce conflict and explain to each family member what the expectations are.
- Model conflict resolution – kids learn by copying us, so let’s make sure they copy the right stuff! With your partner, another adult or even an older child, model what the problem is and how you are going to solve it. Then follow this up by modelling what you will do next, such as moving onto another activity.
- Avoid labelling – they may be the ‘athletic one,’ the ‘picky one,’ or the ‘just like your father one’ but giving a child a label never does any good. Often children view labels as defining who they are, making even a positive label for a sibling (such as being the athletic one) a negative experience as they believe they aren’t any good at sports.
- Teach calming strategies – skills such as deep breathing, squeezing a pillow or even choosing to the room for a short while can be useful in de-escalating the situation.
As an adult you need to make the decision as to when you are going to step into any conflict. It’s a given that you’ll need to for safety issues, but at other times it is okay to be close by while they work through the issue. Offering suggestions on what your child could say or do is also useful, as is stopping the conflict by reading a book and then coming back to address it once everyone has calmed down.
If you yourself are feeling overwhelmed at any time, remember that it is ok for you to walk away and take a break too! It’s all about keeping yourself and those you love safe.