Sibling rivalry seems to be an unavoidable part of growing up that can try a parent’s patience. Learning to get along with siblings requires a set of social skills that must be taught. Parents can help their children by teaching them how to handle conflict, negotiate and resolve differences; but it is an ongoing process.
You can help keep peace between your children by setting limits, modeling appropriate behavior and giving your children a chance to practice the conflict resolution skills you are teaching them. Just be prepared to step in if your kids need help finding common ground.
If sibling rivalry is a problem in your home, these suggestions may help keep the peace:
- Sibling rivalry is often a bid for parents’ attention. Look for everyday opportunities to give each of your children plenty of individual attention. Even something as simple as inviting one child to help you cook dinner or reading a bedtime story to each child separately or taking only one child with you to the store can create opportunities to focus your undivided attention on one child and make him feel special.
- Try not to compare your children to each other or to other children. Emphasize each child’s uniqueness, special talents and personal achievements.
- Each child needs a space where he can go when he wants to play alone. A separate bedroom for each child is ideal; but if children share a room, designate a portion of the bedroom or a special place in the house as each child’s special place.
- Children need to learn to share, but some things should not have to be shared. Provide each child with a place where he can keep things that are special to him, and insist that siblings respect each other’s property.