Ahh, sibling rivalry… we all remember the good old days of pinning your brother/sister up against the wall, insatiably jealous that she/he was bought the latest must-have toy and you weren’t. OK, so maybe not everyone pins their sibling up against a wall in order to vent their jealous feelings towards them, but most children squabble, quarrel and sometimes all-out fight with their siblings. It’s natural, but if sibling rivalry is getting too much to handle for you then there are ways to calm the storm clouds forming over your house.
Try to show equal attention/support
If you’ve more than one child showing equal amounts of support or attention can be tricky business. Every family has an over-achiever and also one who may need a little extra help or guidance, but it’s really important not to be seen to be praising one more than the other or giving more help or affection. Treat every child to a ‘come-home-hug’, meaning getting home from work or when they get back from school and bear-hugging them all together. Even if they’re harbouring feelings of resentment to each other, a bear hug with everyone involves helps to force them to be close and sets them up for being closer with others in everyday life generally.
Talk to them as equals
Even if one sibling is younger, you must try not to let age differences drive conversation one way or the next. It’s important to be able to talk openly and honestly with all your children, but don’t mollycoddle the younger ones with softer language especially in front of their older siblings as it can create feelings of resentment when the younger child recognises you’re talking down for their benefit. If you use big words with one child, use them with every child, and explain the difficult-to-understand ones.
Recreate childhood fun
This tip particularly helps with younger warring siblings. Basically, if your older siblings are bickering constantly, or maybe even becoming physically violent towards each other then bring out some old-fashioned techniques to get them to cool it. Did you use to bake with your kids? Did you play a game of baseball, go for a walk or play with the dog? Suggesting one of these tasks may not go down so well initially, but by coaxing them to recreate these family bonding times you’ll be helping to repair some of the damaged egos in the long run.
Seek family support and intervention
There shouldn’t be a stigma about asking for help if things get really tough, but unfortunately, there can be. Why not get someone slightly independent, like a cohabiting partner, for example, to talk to your squabbling kids? You might find that by having someone outside of the immediate family circle try to talk sense to the siblings that results start to show. Failing that there is always family support counselling which works wonders for sibling rivalry.
Try to work the magic yourself with warring siblings by bringing them closer together. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to their woes equally and to try to make sense of them. If all else fails and you can’t seem to get them to make peace, then intervention is better than letting things go untouched.