SIBLING RIVALRY – KING TIGER MARTIAL ARTS CHESAPEAKE
Several myths about sibling relationships exist in our culture:
- Siblings shouldn’t fight with each other.
- Siblings should know how to play fairly.
- Siblings should act lovingly toward each other.
- Siblings should be able to manage their anger toward one another.
If parents believe these statements, their frustration and annoyance can intensify. One of the hardest parts of parenting more than one child is realizing that sibling rivalry is inevitable. However, it makes sense if you think about the nature of your children’s relationship. They are forced to co-exist, to get along, and to share almost everything, including the one thing that means more to them than anything else. I’m not talking about the computer, but you, the parent. Your children crave your attention and your time, and when fights break out, they also beg for you to take their side. That can be really hard to do, especially when you have two or more children each crying out for you to “fix it” and, better yet, make it so they “win.” It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
On top of that, there are additional factors that affect how the battles play out, such as gender and age differences, temperament and developmental stage of each child, birth order, family culture, and expectations. For example, young children who are close in age often bicker more and require more supervision than older siblings. In addition, your expectations are shaped by your experiences and the messages you were given about your relationship with your siblings when you were growing up.
Although a certain amount of sibling rivalry is to be expected, there are things you can do to reduce and minimize the frequency of conflicts:
•Avoid comparing your children with each other.
•Give your time in terms of need. At times, your fifth grader may need your help with homework more than the youngest needs you to watch cartwheels; at other times, the youngest may need time and attention when she falls down or gets hurt.
•Teach children to be assertive with words so they don’t rely on you to rescue them. Of course, keep your eyes and ears open in case things escalate and your presence is needed.
•Be a positive role model by using healthy communication to resolve conflict.
•Plan a daily routine with time apart and give each child his or her own “space.”
•Help kids structure time and discover ways to be active and focused. Kids who have too much time on their hands often fill it by instigating a fight with their siblings.
•When possible, arrange a special time or outing alone with each child (a walk, a visit to the park or library). Kids can learn to accept their sibling’s getting time with you if they know they will get a turn, too.
•Be an observer to see if there is a pattern of conflict. For example, is there a particular time of day when struggles erupt, or is there a special toy over which your children consistently battle, or do arguments break out when one of your children has a friend visiting? With this knowledge, you may be able to rearrange things to preempt the battles.
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