Sibling Rivalry is not new. In fact, when I read I and II Kings in my Bible, I am appalled at how easily one upstart king could wipe out his entire family as a ploy for job security. Things generally don’t get that out of hand in our own homes although the threat may have been made when one of the kids pushes all the buttons on a sibling. That’s usually when mom or dad steps in with a whistle and a striped shirt.
So in an effort to get sibling rivalry under control, Tip #3 and # 4 for Keeping Sibling Rivalry to a Minimum are:
3. Don’t require your children to compete for your attention.
When a child feels like they are playing second fiddle to a parent’s other activities and obligations, they sometimes think that negative attention is better than no attention at all. And so they begin to act up and one of the most effective ways to get a parent to tune into their world is to start a fight with a sibling. This, for better or for worse, lights a parent up and gets them to tune out the computer, TV, phone or whatever is distracting them from this child and focus in on the latest episode of sibling rivalry. Is this effective? You betcha and even a two year old can figure that out.
4. Don’t show preference of one sibling over another.
The other thing a parent must watch out for is showing preference of one child over another. Maybe you are more into the things that your other child is doing – be it a sport or musical gift or academics, etc. And because you enjoy these things more, you seem to favor one child over another. Holy Moly, that is a recipe for sibling rivalry. The “unpopular” child becomes jealous and even envious of their sibling and goes on the attack, sucking all the enjoyment out of what their sibling is doing and what they themselves are attempting as well.
So if sibling rivalry is thinning out your hair, make sure you give focused attention to each of your children no matter what else is going on in your life and in theirs. Learn to appreciate the things that each of your children are good at and cheer them on. Make sure they know for certain that they have your attention and support. Look them in the eye, listen, interact and affirm them. This will give them the assurance that they are a top priority and not competing for your time and attention with anyone or anything else.
Keeping Sibling Rivalry to a Minimum
- Make sure you are not teaching your kids to bicker by the way you treat your spouse.
- Don’t compare siblings to each other in a negative way.
- Don’t require your children to compete for your attention.
- Don’t show preference of one sibling over another.
Written by Darcy Kimmel