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Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Trouble holding onto your sanity with the constant turmoil with your children at home? Fret not, help is

Trouble holding onto your sanity with the constant turmoil with your children at home? Fret not, help is at bay! Well, if you’ve got kids then you’d be acquainted with rivalry, squabbles, bitter competitions, throw-downs and more to cope with! Sibling rivalry has been a major thorn in the sides of parents since eternity; it is rather a rite of passage and a part of growing up. As parents, we dream of a cloyingly sweet family where siblings worship each other. But folks, let’s get real! Kids will be kids, naturally your darling kids will argue, quarrel, feel jealous, have conflicting thoughts, teasing, tormenting each other but you can help them become more like friends than rivals. As parents most of us know how to handle ourselves without losing self-control, but children may not be aware of their ill tendencies.

We often hear fellow parents complaining of their kids not getting along, engaging in unpleasant behavior, stomping their feet, calling names or pulling another’s hair leading to a war zone at home. This is when the mother and father have to sit up and take notice of the contradictory behavior. Folks, if you have too much to do on your plate and rushing through the daily chores then you need to first take serious note of your child management skills and pay attention to their harmful behaviour.

Here’s how to keep the kids calm

Firstly, remember parenting takes quality time and real effort. To diffuse rivalry, set a good example, as your children are constantly observing how you handle differences and disputes within the house and outside. Do it with harmony and humour!
Secondly, your child’s age is a factor that should be considered and besides, the nature of the dispute has also to be understood. Yes, kill the ill feelings before it gives rise to self-esteem issues and nasty relationship between the kids. One way you could encourage your child to be a proud sibling is by asking him/her to help in changing diapers or feeding. This would invariably strengthen the bond.

As parents you should be their coach, friend- philosopher-guide and help them get vocal to communicate clearly their issues.

Put down ground rules, limits and principles for the children and teach them how to treat one another respectfully. Make it clear that there is no room for abuses or harsh behavior in the house, importance of consideration and focus on kindness sans closeness amongst siblings.

While treating kids equally is impossible steer clear of labeling or comparing your children which would only lead to a further crack in their fragile relationship. Don’t show favoritism or tag them as good-bag-smart-spoilt, etc! Your child might interpret comparison for criticism. Simply try to treat them fairly and acknowledge the feelings maturely. Get their vote of confidence, give a valid reason for making your decisions and allow them to think individually, establish their identity and realize or reason their parents’ intention.

Shield your children from no-win circumstances bearing in mind that it is unacceptable for them especially when they are competing with their older siblings.

As adults, you should help your kids comprehend that their actions bring consequences, and help them develop a bond.

Lina Ashar, a global pioneer for children education, the founder of Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High International School, gives us detailed inputs on the alarming behavior pattern which is a serious issue. Here’s what Ashar shared, ‘The crux of sibling rivalry is vying for parent’s attention. When parents praise one child or take sides or appreciate one child the other child feels neglected, unloved and useless. Siblings spend the maximum time with each other, they share things together, they are bound to have differences and each one wants to be better than the other. This is the exact stage that resentment sets in and this is where the seed for sibling rivalry is sown. Sometimes rivalry is just healthy competition and sometimes it manifests into higher levels and siblings resent each other for the rest of their lifetime. An interesting case study is Tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams who are sisters. On court, they vie for the same crown and the competition is very fierce. Both have been reigning queens of the court, ranked World No.1 at various points in their career. However, off court, the sisters are known to share a close relationship.

You need to be a neutral observer that is what will help build a healthy relationship amongst siblings. Parents need to be mindful when they deal with multiple children
A parent has to bridge the rivalry gap by constantly talking about the importance of family and sibling support. Historical instances of rivalry actually making both siblings more vulnerable and weaker should be told.’

BOX 1
Parents you need to be careful when dealing with your children:

•​ ​Treat your children as separate entities, they are different individuals.
•​ ​Let your children handle their differences on their own, step in only when the situation gets out of control.
•​ ​Let them express their feelings.
•​ ​Behave like a moderator and not a judge.

Box 2
What To Avoid-

•​ ​Never compare your children, they are different individuals and they are bound to have different strengths.
•​ ​Don’t pick a side
•​ ​Don’t force apologies or ask for forgiveness
•​ ​Don’t shout and scream or hit your children

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