Now Reading
8 Ways to Curb Sibling Rivalry in Your Home

8 Ways to Curb Sibling Rivalry in Your Home

Ololade Hector-Majekodunmi

For most parents, fostering close relationships between our kids is one of our greatest concerns. We want our children to get along well and show love to one another! We definitely should be concerned when their disagreements and rivalry fester. As much as disagreements are inevitable, they must not be too constant and we must prevent strife and malice at all cost.

Find 8 things you should do:

READ ALSO: 7 Ways To Discipline A Toddler Without Spanking (Part One)

1. Have Good Structure and Rules in Your Home

If your children know your values and the way you are all to conduct yourselves in the home, adults included, there will be less ‘refereeing’ for you to do. Make fewer, more important rules instead of a long list of dos and don’ts. For instance, it’s very normal for children, from a toddler to a teenager, to hit each other sometimes. If you have a ‘no hitting’ rule in your home, then you must enforce it. When a child beats or hits his sibling, it is appropriate to have him make amends or be punished for doing so. This will restrain them from physical combats.

2. Teach about offence and conflict resolution

Don’t wait until there are issues before you teach them. Set clear expectations for behaviour with rules and follow through. Simply tell them, “Offence will come, but all you need to do is to tell the other party how you feel. If you get an apology, forgive and let it go. If the offending party refuses to apologise, then report to your parents, teacher or guardian as appropriate depending on your location (That is why we have court rooms in society; sometimes a mediator is necessary).” Emphasize also that they must never hit anyone for any reason. I told my preteens, only savages fight physically (Let them look up the meaning in a dictionary), civilized people talk and iron out their differences verbally.

3. Have a regular ‘encouragement feast’

This is an idea from Redirecting Children’s Behaviour course which works. It helps children remember the good in others and not focus on their weaknesses. The family sits in a circle with one person in the middle. Each family member says one positive thing about the person in the middle. For example, “One of the things I love and appreciate about you, Seyi, is your great sense of humour.” After everyone has encouraged him, he then says one thing he loves about the others. Afterwards, another family member takes his place in the middle. The exercise continues until everyone has an opportunity to be in the middle and be encouraged. Children love this exercise and it teaches them to receive encouragement as well as give it.

READ ALSO: Knowing Your Child’s Individual Differences and How to Accept Them (Part One)

4. To avoid breeding hostility, treat all your children equally

Never compare them to one another and ensure you don’t show favouritism towards any child. Many parents are guilty of this and it’s a sure-fire way to spark or fuel sibling rivalry. Also, it’s easy to allow the hot-headed one to have his way when wrong. We must guard against this, else, the calmer child will feel cheated and may begin to resent the other child. Please note that the hot-headed child needs our help to conduct himself in a socially acceptable manner. Constant criticism, endless punishment or generally being harsh does not help.

5. Encourage positive behaviour when you notice it

When you see acts of kindness, comment and appreciate them. Reward exemplary behaviour from time to time.

6. What we model to them when we have issues with our spouses is equally important

See Also

If our home is a constant parental war zone, we can’t expect a different story with our children. Also, how do we model conflict resolution to our children? Spousal argument can be an opportunity to show your children how to communicate. When you argue, apologise and make-up in your children’s presence, you are putting your constructive rather than destructive skills on display. Your older children particularly will learn to do same overtime.

7. Mediate when one child reports another

The ‘just stop it’ approach teaches kids nothing, rather, it makes the issue fester particularly with teenagers. Mediate without taking sides, hear both parties out, allow them to pinpoint their grievances and make them apologize to each other with a hug and an ‘I’m sorry.’

8. Surround them with idioms, proverbs and wise sayings on unity and peace in a subtle non-hounding way

You can write it on a piece of paper weekly and paste it on the fridge where everyone will see it.  For example, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” “There is power in unity.”

READ ALSO: 7 Ways To Discipline A Toddler Without Spanking (Part Two)

We cannot change our child’s temperament, but we can teach our children ways to deal with their temperament challenges. We cannot afford to be powerless with issues concerning the development of our children.

View Comments (25)

Copyright © 2021 Motherhood In-Style Magazine. All Rights Reserved.