A recent article on news.com.au discussed recent studies about sibling rivalry and it’s potential link to mental health issues later in life.
At Better Balance Counselling, we have come up with some suggestions as to how you might intervene to reduce sibling rivalry in your household:
- Arrange for one-on-one time. Often conflict is caused by a desire for attention, and if your children aren’t getting positive attention from you, they might seek it in other ways; e.g. negative attention. Devoting at least 10-20 minutes of positive, individual attention from each parent to each children, every day, could significantly reduce the trivial fights in your household.
- Lose the labels. Giving your children certain labels e.g. “the smart one”, “the sporty one”, or even “the crazy one”, not only creates competition between your children, but also places expectations on them. Instead, acknowledging their positive attributes; team work, persistence, kindness etc. means they can encourage each other, rather than competing for your approval.
- Lead by example. Sometimes children might need to be reminded about how they can peacefully resolve conflict. Teach them about taking turns, how to use “I feel” statements, when to walk away and how to control their temper (counting to 10, taking a deep breath, etc.), and you’ll be able to ward off a lot of sibling arguments before they begin.
- Stay out of it. Give your children a chance to resolve issues themselves, so if you hear a squabble beginning, busy yourself elsewhere. This way, they must learn how to deal with things themselves and not have the payoff that they get from your attention when you intervene.
- Calm the conflict. If your kids clearly can’t reach an agreement, or if the fight escalates, you might have to step in. Listen to each child, encouraging “I feel” statements as they tell their story. Then, without placing blame or taking sides, ask them to come up with some solutions. If no one is able to come up with a workable resolution, suggest a few yourself, and help them reach an agreement.
- Put them all in the same boat. If your kids still can’t agree, it’s time to put them “all in the same boat.” So, if they can’t co-exist, peacefully, then they will all be handed the same consequence e.g “If you can’t take turns with a game, it will be put away for the rest of the day”. And, most importantly, follow through.
If you would like somewhere to talk about the sibling rivalry in your household, or any other parental concerns, we offer Effective Parenting Counselling at Better Balance Counselling.
Contact Us today to discuss this further.