5 simple ways to avoid sibling rivalry between your little ones
While misunderstandings and quarrels among children are part and parcel of parenthood, there are appropriate approaches you can take to mitigate rivalry and promote harmony among your little juniors.
Sibling rivalry and competition begin at the most basic of social units—the family. Children fight for a variety of reasons and the reasons become more complicated as they get older.
It is essential to guide them through it at the early stages of their social development to avoid deep-rooted issues once they become adults. We’ve all read and heard about how birth order can affect the personalities of children and influence how they relate to each other as they grow.
Beyond that, parents also have significant effect in curbing or aggravating sibling conflict. After all, which parent wouldn’t want a close knitted Rahul and Rohan relationship as displayed in our favourite Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham movie?
Fret not, it’s possible when values are inculcated young. While misunderstandings and quarrels among children are part and parcel of parenthood, there are appropriate measures you can take to mitigate rivalry and promote harmony among your little ones.
1. Ease them into it
Start them young. For an only child, at the root of rivalry is the jealousy that occurs once another child comes into the world. To help them accept the fact that he is no longer has your full attention, get them comfortable with the idea while you are still pregnant. You can let him feel your growing tummy, hear the baby’s heartbeat, and experience the kicking baby inside you.
Get him involved in the whole process like you and your husband went through it when you were pregnant with him. This way, he becomes more invested in his younger sibling. Usually, kids become jealous when they become ignored or neglected even during pregnancy, so make sure that you make him feel like he’s part of the process.
2. Entrust older children with responsibility
In relation to the first approach, you can instil a sense of responsibility on your older child or children. This makes them feel like an essential part of the family. Asking their opinion in making simple decisions will boost their self-esteem.
For instance, you can allow them to pick clothes or the colour of the room. While engaging them in supervised decision-making, don’t forget to let them know that the changes about to occur are positive.
Saying things like “You’ll finally have a playmate” or “Your younger sibling will look up to you” would allow them to care and develop compassion for their younger sibling.
3. Play up each child’s strengths but be fair
Highlighting the individuality of each child is essential as this will help them differentiate themselves from their siblings. Praising their unique traits and strengths will reduce competitiveness, envy, and resentment. It goes without saying, comparison can foster inferiority complex leading to rivalry. To mitigate this, allow them explore and work at their passions and interests. Be supportive.
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4. Do not compare capabilities
Some parents tend to go the opposite way, focusing too much on the child lagging behind in an effort to take them up to the level of the other siblings. When you do this, the more accomplished siblings would tend to harbour resentment for the focus of attention.
They would feel unappreciated and this might even lead them develop low self esteem. Should some or all of your children show aptitude for the same thing, be it academics or music, remain supportive and resist the urge to compare.
5. Balance firmness with humility
Overall, parenthood can be tricky and you won’t get everything right all the time. The important thing is to allow your children to bond with each other and allow them to resolve things on their own sometimes. It takes a certain degree of balance and discernment to know when to intervene and when to step back.
Much like a flower bouquet, these advice and strategies are merely the focal flowers, once you become a parent faced with real-world concerns, you begin accumulating bits and pieces of wisdom, intermediary flowers and foliage, making it the beautifully textured and layered arrangement that it is.
So don’t feel bad if you get things wrong, be humble enough to know that you don’t know everything and that sometimes, you can learn a lot from your children as much as they learn from you.
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