Parental guidance; solve constant rivalry among siblings

Sibling rivalry is not a new term to parents who have more than one or two children. Children bickering over tiny little things can look like a simple thing but can detrimentally progress into the future.

Some siblings still experience rivalry even in their older ages because this particular problem wasn’t addressed early. Often times, siblings build comparison over who is best, who made it, who got a better husband, who got well behaved children or even who lives in a better city.

Nakasenge Zeridah, a mother of six, says sibling rivalry can grow into disconnection and related mental health issues among teenagers.

“It may appear like just siblings bickering at first, but if parents don’t pay attention, this small vice can turn into hatred. Parents must take responsibility, especially now that devices are playing the secondary role,’’ she advises.

To parents this rivalry becomes a challenge when the children are older and don’t get along. Something that should have been dealt with in the infant or teenage ages becomes the parent’s nightmare, trying to bring old people to stay in one room for a minute because the issue wasn’t addressed at the right time.

To parents struggling to groom expressive children, here are some tips to help you tame sibling rivalry;

Don’t exhibit favouritism

There is a common saying lately that your first born is your best friend which most parents mistake for having a favourite child. It is often unavoidable to give more attention to the first born, keep in mind that the other children are watching and equally want to be shown care and attention. Sibling conflicts are usually perceived or experienced injustice. Never let your children feel that one is more favoured than the other because they will take it out on the other.

Teach your children to handle conflict

When children are taught how to handle disputes early, they turn out to be good at building and maintaining relationships in future. Discourage name calling when one doesn’t disagree with the other, let children learn to listen to the other’s view instead of wanting to be the only ones heard. When you teach children to resolve differences constructively, they will be adults who can negotiate future issues at work and in their communities effectively.

Take responsibility

As a parent, you have power over these little kids. They will listen to you, act on what you say and imitate you. They will observe how you resolve disagreements with house helps and they will not be any different. “An apple doesn’t fall far from a tree,’’ calls for you to be a good model to your children, so that they can learn to live acceptably in the community. Take your place in their lives by teaching them that disagreements shouldn’t divide them.

Instigate the “we are a team’’ notion

You don’t choose who you are born to or with. Family is not a choice and thus, we must appreciate that we are a team. Encourage them to love each other, cherish, speak kindly and look out for one another. Once children are made aware that being horrible to their sibling also affects mom and dad, they will try as much to keep be a team.

Encourage the child to state their problem

In most cases, children use the “it’s not fair’’ statement instead of stating what exactly is not fair. Proceed with a question, what is not fair? Your child should be able to openly express their concerns instead of just shrugging it off. This will eliminate characterisation and focus on problem solving.

Be neutral in judgement

In a disagreement, each sibling wants to be the most heard. Don’t fall into the trap of taking sides because any interruption will mean you have picked a team. Children need be able to vent to parents and feel heard.

Ask the children to suggest solutions

As a parent, focus on what your children does right rather than what they do wrong. While teaching your children conflict resolution, let them participate fully by describing situations when they felt they weren’t heard. You can use team work games or games to make it even more elaborate and interesting.


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