The number one cause of sibling conflict is rivalry among siblings who are competing for their parent's love, attention, time and approval. To help your children get along better, you need to look at yourself. Ask yourself how you feel about your own siblings. Where you fall in your family says a lot about how you may react to your own children. You may repeat the same things your parents said or did. Make changes if you feel you may be favoring one over the other or taking sides where unnecessary. Give each of your children uninterrupted time away from your other children. You will find that they will most likely compete less.
Siblings can't avoid conflict any more than you can avoid conflict with your significant other. There is no doubt challenges will arise in sibling relationships. Parents can take steps to better understand their children and help their children to learn to resolve conflicts with respect and dignity and deepen the bonds with their siblings. Parents and primary caregivers are the children's first teachers. Children will generally follow the relationship pattern they see in the home; parents that fight fair have children who generally have a positive framework for conflict resolution.
What's Behind Sibling Rivalry?
Teach your children how to talk about their feelings without aggression and hostility, which can cause siblings to fire back or tune out. Role-play appropriate ways to listen to each other. Avoid intervening unless your children become physically, emotionally or verbally abusive towards one another. Make sure they understand where this line is. Let them know that each child in your family has different needs. While they will all get their individual needs met, it will not be the same as their siblings. Each child in your family should be treated fairly.
Your children are always watching you. Be affectionate with your spouse, kids and extended family. You will find that for the most part, your children will do the same. Teach your children to be polite to one another and to be aware of each other's needs. Older siblings may need to be taught or reminded about behaviors, such as impulsiveness, that their younger siblings may display. Model the appropriate way to respond and relate to the little ones. Plan family activities and outings to enjoy each other's company and allow siblings to get to know each other on a deeper level. Make memories that they'll never forget.
Sometimes sibling relationships become hostile or violent. This can be due to one or both parents having emotional problems, marital conflict, family violence, abuse or an emotional problem with one or both children. Even if you or your spouse is having a difficult time, taking steps to make changes, possibly through counseling, can get your family on track. This can make a huge difference in how your children get along now and in the way they will relate to others once they reach adulthood.
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