As a parent, how do you get your children to value each other and sort out their differences amicably? Here are some simple tips for you to help deal with sibling rivalry.
By Amrita Gracias
Parenting involves several challenges. And, one common challenge that most parents face is having to deal with sibling rivalry among their children. Although it is normal for siblings to experience some disagreement and opposition, intense rivalry can have long-term negative influences. So, although you dread being dragged into seemingly silly quarrels or a war of words, these conflicts between your children must be dealt with appropriately. First of all, let us see what leads to sibling rivalry.
When you are forced to deal with the constant bickering between your children, you feel helpless and it can be stressful for you too. So, how do you deal with this issue and inspire your children to share a more loving bond? Ms Arundhati Swamy, counsellor and Head – Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle, says that most often children feel that their parents’ reactions to conflict situations don’t really help or support them. She explains that rather than being a judge of the situation, parents should come up with alternatives to see how best the situation can be handled. “Empower your children to problem-solve rather than solving their problems all the time,” she says.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts from Ms Arundhati that will help parents deal with sibling rivalry among their children:
For primary schoolers:
It certainly is no easy task dealing with bickering children. Often, the situation worsens owing to some common mistakes we make, which causes a child to have low confidence and self-esteem and in turn escalates the enmity. She explains that sometimes parents also tend to give one child preferential treatment over the other. “Sometimes, even gender biases can lead to rivalry. Or, just being more emotionally, physically or verbally expressive towards one child more than the other. Also, often enough, the older child never receives the right support,” she says. She explains that parents must be consistent and fair and should negotiate diplomatically in instances of dissension. In cases where parents are in conflict between themselves, they look to the children for support. “By drawing children into their own conflict, parents establish a subtle or obvious partnership with the children to support themselves, and this conflict spills over to the children,” she adds.
In fact, a great way to get siblings to be more tolerant of each other is to find ways wherein they can both have fun together. In the book, ‘The Whole-Brain Child’ by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (2011), Dr Siegel says that sibling rivalry can be balanced out when enjoyment together is greater than the conflict between them, and this strengthens their bond.
In some cases, one child might have special needs and, hence, will require extra attention. In such circumstances, explain to the sibling the condition and its severity. Else, he would be clueless about why his sibling is receiving all the extra attention. Help him understand how you can help and support each other.
Although your children’s disputes and differences are good learning experiences for problem-solving and interpersonal relationship skills, do insist that they make an effort to value each other and be more caring of each other!
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