About Sibling Rivalry
Most siblings adore each other and can be best of friends, but other children always seem to fight. Fighting is normal for siblings, according to psychologists, and is also common in every household. One minute, they love each other and the next thing you know, they’re fighting with all their might. Do not worry about this; it is alarming but very normal.
Sibling rivalry can start even if there is no other child born yet after the eldest. And as they grow older, siblings tend to fight for attention from their parents. Jealousy will start between, and they will be comparing themselves from one another – what they don’t have that the other sibling has and vice versa.
Hearing your kids “rumble and wrestle,” all the time can be very stressful. It can also be frustrating that you have no idea how to make them stop fighting. A household that always has fights can give off the negativity that you don’t want to have. Do not fret; there are ways to slowly promote peace and order around the house so your kids could get along.
Why Kids Fight
There are many reasons why kids fight, but mostly it is because of their parent’s attention. Other factors to consider when your children are fighting include:
- Evolving needs. As children grow, their needs change. It affects their emotions, identities, and how they relate to other kids. Toddlers are often selfish when it comes to their toys and belongings, and when a baby brother or sister picks it up, they could get aggressive. This is a normal trait for toddlers. School-age kids have a sense of fairness and equality, so it will be difficult for them to grasp why a younger sibling gets more time or affection, and this could lead to jealousy and fighting for attention. Teenagers are developing their identities and independence; that is why it’s hard to make them do household chores or even spend time with their younger siblings.
- Individual temperaments. Your kids are all different and have unique traits. Not all siblings have the same mood levels, disposition, and adaptability so it can be hard for two siblings that are complete opposites always to get along.
- Special needs/sick kids. Kids who have special needs or illness can get more attention from parents. And their other siblings could negatively see this and act out because of jealousy or because they don’t understand and fear the worst about the situation their sick sibling is in.
- Role models. Kids often look up to their parents, and if they see that their parents do not resolve a problem respectfully, and not aggressively, they could also develop these kinds of attitude because they think that this kind of problem-solving is the right way to resolve conflict.
What To Do When The Fighting Starts
Never get involved with your kid’s fight. Only get involved if there can be physical harm conflicted. Let your children resolve their problems and never get in the way. They might think that you are protective of the other sibling, and this can develop into more resentment from your children.
Coach your children if you are not comfortable with the language that they are using when fighting. It is not intervening the fight or resolving their issues for them.
- Separate the kids and let them calm down. Resolving their problems in the heat of the moment can result in other conflicts, and the fight will not end. “Parents can help teach children how to resolve conflicts on their own by offering alternative solutions,” Rochelle Perper, PhD, advised. When calm, you can talk about the problems and analyze the situation and find the best solution to end this rivalry.
- Don’t blame one child. Both are responsible for fighting, so both children need to know that nobody is right or wrong.
- Give the children a solution that they both can benefit from. If they both want to play with a specific toy, find an interesting and fun way that they can play with the toy together.
Helping Kids Get Along
- Set up some ground rules and make sure they follow them, so they have fun, and the household is a peaceful environment for all.
- It’s not always going to be “fair” or ‘equal” with the kids, and that’s okay. Sometimes, one child needs more from you, unlike his/her siblings. “Also, try not to comment on the differences between your children – it’s easy for children to think they aren’t as good as their sibling if you compare them,” Eleanor Mackey, PhD, added.
- Make time to have a one – on – one moment with your kids. Your kids might have different interests, so you have to give them individual time so you can bond and do the things you like together.
- Reassure them that they are all loved and all their needs will be met. “This is a family and not a sports arena, and children should be raised in collaboration not competition,” Gail Gross, PhD, said.
- Have fun together and try to get everyone involved in your household. Have family meetings to talk about problems and what solutions can be done.
Getting Professional Help
Some sibling conflicts are so severe that there is physical harm. This is when you need to seek professional help so you could be assisted on how to handle your children and look for underlying reasons why your kids lash out. Sometimes, there is more to the problem than you can see and a professional can help you with that.