Sibling rivalry is as old as, well, the existence of siblings. While the strife between children can make parents want to jump from a second-story window, this very strife is quite possibly one of the most valuable opportunities for growth your child will encounter. As annoying as sibling rivalry can be,remember that it’s a learning experience — just take a deep breath and remember that good can come of it.
The world doesn’t revolve around you!
How better to teach your child that the universe is occupied by other people than the omnipresence of a sibling? Children are selfish by nature. It’s perfectly okay for them to figure out how to navigate a life with someone else — it’s excellent practice for school, work and marriage! Still, you’ll sense when they need a break from one another. If siblings are in each other’s personal space too much, you could have a mutiny on your hands. Step in and offer a little one-on-one time with you! Take one to lunch on Saturday. Take the other to the arcade on Sunday.
It’s true that some siblings define “sharing” as “taking and keeping without asking.” Nonetheless, learning to let someone else use something dear to us is one of life’s most valuable lessons. If your child doesn’t want to share (which puts them in the same league as millions of other children), ask the lender if there is something of the borrower’s they might like to use. Bartering can be a very good experience for kids, too.
Children can practice the fine art of negotiating right at home. Siblings can help each other learn that saying, “May I borrow that for a little while if I let you play with something of mine,” is way more effective than “Give that to me you rotten brat!” Negotiating and borrowing go hand-in-hand.
Siblings get angry with each other. The say mean things, hit, spit, bite, kick and do lots of other things you might see in the movie Fight Club. How can parents stop the violence? One parent-favorite is to teach siblings to “use their words.” Using an “I message” is widely taught, also.
An “I message” takes a would-be accusation and turns into something the receiver might relate to. What we are looking for here is not, “I feel like crap when you don’t listen to me,” but more, “I feel angry when you don’t listen to me.” See the difference? The child is taking responsibility for how they feel, and trying to articulate it in a way that the sibling will understand. If you really want to get under your kids’ skin when they are fighting, make them hug it out. Kids loathe this. But it works. You can’t stay mad at someone when you’re hugging them.
Here’s what you need to know about sibling rivalries. Children will fight. They will act hateful toward each other. This behavior might make you want to run away from home. But if handled properly, it will also help your children evolve into functioning members of society.