There are a lot of relationships in this group. My parents are in the middle, surrounded by their eight surviving children and their spouses and children. More children equals more rivalry. I'm in the maroon dress seated, second from the left.
If you have more than one child, sibling rivalry is usually one of your biggest challenges, and the best way for kids to learn to get along with people in the world. Disagreements, jealousy and wrongs are committed among people all the time. The question is, how to resolve them?
An adult friend who is an only child said she hated fighting with her friends “because they always had the option of going home. If you have siblings, they can’t go anywhere. You have to work it out eventually,” she said.
Your kids’ relationship will provide the foundation for the most difficult and rewarding relationships of their lives. Sound familiar? Getting along with siblings is preparation for marriage and work.
The more parents take sides and punish for sibling rivalry, the worse it will become because the kids will use it as a way to manipulate parents. They’re still learning from that, too!
Here are some techniques to encourage them to get along.
1. Put them all in the same boat. Fighting over a toy? Remove the toy. Then encourage them: “You can have it back when you’re ready to figure out how to take turns/share.”
2. Get them to sit down in two chairs, knees touching, looking at each other. Ask questions. “What’s the problem? Who has an idea on how to solve it?”
3. Take all fights outside or to basement –because audiences make fighting better. Cold weather makes short fights.
4. Make sure your kids are getting sufficient attention from you at neutral times so they’re not using sibling rivalry to get negative attention.
5. Don’t feel sorry for younger and weaker siblings. They have excellent defense and offense tactics. They can also learn the valuable lesson that annoying bigger and older people can result in pain.
6. Use a confident voice and body language when saying, “You can do it. I know you can work it out.” Then walk away.
7. Put the conflict on the family meeting agenda. This “parks it” for a while and allows time to come up with reasonable solutions. Get locks for doors, put toys out of reach, take responsibility for putting your special stuff away. Etc. free tip sheet on family meetings at www.raisingable.com
8. Some problems never go away until childhood goes away. This is life & parenthood. They will grow up and leave home. When you allow them to work it out, they grow closer.