Raising siblings without rivalry, is it possible? Or even practical? Practical maybe, but possible, some of you are probably shaking your head from side to side, thinking it is the impossible dream. If you are the parent of more than one child, you have, in all likelihood, already seen the potential for sibling rivalry in your family. Each of your little ones has a distinct personality, which can lead to conflicts, which if not held in check, can lead to sibling rivalry. No one likes to see their children fight, so we’ve compiled some tips to help you raise siblings who enjoy one another’s company and actually like each other.
Spend Time as a Family
Time together as a family helps build strong bonds. Whether you are talking, laughing, playing games, crafting, drawing, going on walks, enjoying music, and dancing. In addition, as parents, you want to begin creating secure attachments from birth, between you and your children, and among your children. These bonds will allow your child to understand the love you have as well as the fact you will always be there for him or her.
When a new child is on the way, make sure the older sibling is including in the bonding process with the new baby. Talk to big brother or sister about the baby, buy books and read together, show images of the new baby’s growth, let the older sibling feel when his or her new brother or sister is moving and kicking, and include the older child in the baby’s birth as much as you feel is appropriate.
Teach and Show Respect
Here there are a number of actions you can take to help your children understand respect. First of all, you need to model respect, particularly with your children and always taking their emotions into consideration. Your children are always watching. They watch your interactions with others, including how you react with upset and they learn from your example how to deal with difficult situations. For us, as adults, many situations – like getting cut off in traffic, when someone calls during dinner, or when someone treats you poorly – are stressful and how we react teaches our children to do the same.
Children must be taught to respect one another, including feelings and emotions. Encouraging siblings to work together to achieve a common goal, play together as a team, and other activities that keep them from head to head competitions. When they are working and playing together, they learn to appreciate one another and respect will grow.
Disagreements and Discipline
Disagreements are bound to arise. When they do, you should, first, let your children try to find positive and fair solutions without your intervention. This allows them to learn problem solving, compromise, and even team work on their own – a much better lesson overall.
When you do find you must intervene and even apply discipline – make sure it is positive. Don’t get caught up in opinions, emotions, and the he said, she said scenario, but rather on resolution in a positive way. If discipline is to be applied, remember the importance of presenting a good example for your children, treating them with respect – the way you want to be treated.
And Please, No Comparisons
Don’t define your children or try to fit them in mold based on what you see as their abilities or proclivities. Let them express themselves and be themselves, never limiting their growth or inquisitiveness. Don’t make comparisons, it will only lead more disagreements, jealously, and negativity. Spend some one on one time with each of your children, showing them your undivided attention, joining them in their favorite activity, and genuinely loving on them!