In a family system, opposition and competition among siblings can’t be avoided. This is due to individual differences and the desire to be the best at the expense of another person’s well-being. Siblings rivalry may be inevitable, however, certain principles make managing sibling rivalry achievable.
Irrespective of the love and unity among siblings, there always comes a point of disagreement, when not curtailed can tear the home apart. Therefore, it’s your responsibility as a parent to be able to understand each child’s perspective when opposition arises. Most importantly, solve the issue without being biased.
Effective Ways to Manage Siblings Rivalry
1. Think Before Acting When Rivalry Surfaces
Whenever there seems to be friction between your kids, your first line of action is to calm yourself down. This prevents you from acting out of anger or siding one child over the other. Most importantly, you’re able to understand what exactly is the root cause of the problem, who is at fault, and what solution is best.
In addition, learn to discipline your kids in love and avoid correcting them through violence. In other words, disciplining in love makes your kids see their faults and make amends or improve their character. However, violence makes their character grow worse, decreases the love bond between you and that child, and causes them to become violent with other siblings and peers. Also, that child begins to develop enmity towards you as a parent.
2. Treating all Siblings Equally Minimizes Rivalry
Managing sibling rivalry demands that all kids be treated equally—no discrimination. Sincerely, everyone is unique in their way. However, don’t let one child’s weakness or strength influence how you relate with your children. Remember your kids are good observers, once they notice you have a favourite, the rivalry begins to surface as a means of expressing their emotional neglect.
This reminds me of my childhood experience. One faithful day my mom returned home and brought presents for me and my brother. Innocently, she gave me a pair of shoes and gave my brother the same with the addition of a football. I had no need for football but at the same time felt cheated and unloved— immediately, my mood changed. My mom noticed and began questioning, when the cause of my mood change was discovered, without much time wastage it was corrected.
In other words, as a parent, it’s expected of you to love and relate with all your kids equally. Most importantly, gender should not dictate how you treat your kids. Female children are entitled to all rights and benefits just like male children. Discrimination is one of the parenting mistakes to avoid as a parent. Also, discrimination affects both academic performances, social ability, emotional intelligence, physical and moral behavior of a child.
3. Celebrate Your Kids Uniqueness and Differences
Siblings begin to compete with each other when they think less of themselves— low self-esteem. Hence, managing sibling rivalry requires creating time to acknowledge and celebrate your kid’s uniqueness. This act helps them see the best in themselves and erase the feeling that another is better than them. Also, while doing this don’t exalt one child highly in the midst of another, this often stirs up hatred towards that child from the rest of the siblings.
Amazingly, the more you celebrate your kids, they begin to embrace each other in love, seeing the need for each other. Gradually, it becomes clear to them that teamwork is the fastest route to arrive at their destination, not rivalry.
4. Study Your Kids Temperament
To a large extent one’s thinking, behaviour and reactions are influenced by our temperament. Therefore, managing sibling rivalry demands that you should learn about your kid’s temperament. So you can create a conducive atmosphere for each child to avoid feuds that may result from temperament clashing. The major temperament types include sanguine—outspoken, choleric—leadership incline, melancholy—creative innovators, and phlegmatic—easy going.
Studying your kids’ temperament enlightens you the most on how to group your kids to an assignment. For instance,
the choleric me and my immediate brother who is more of a phlegmatic can’t be on the same team, because a choleric who is activity-driven will be irritated by the nonchalant attitude of a phlegmatic.
Whereas, the reverse is the case when paired with my other siblings who are more of a melancholy temperament. Likewise, a creative melancholy will be annoyed by the playful, unserious sanguine attitude.
5. Practice and Emphasis the Act of Love overall
An atmosphere of love reduces rivalry among siblings. Furthermore, boost the attitude of understanding and unity. In essence, siblings can relate friendly with each other and cooperate to achieve a given task. It’s wrong to assume that your kids know and understand how much you care and value them. Therefore, take a step further by professing your love to your kids—say it; I love you!
Also, your actions should portray love, this includes buying them gifts, allowing them to make their own decisions—stop imposing your will on your kids, remember they have a mind of their own. Most importantly, let your reaction show love like being happy when they do something great and disciplining in love among others.
6. Assign Creative Punishment when Necessary
Having understood the reason behind the opposition between siblings and detecting who is at fault. What comes next, is your ability to allocate reasonable punishment to prevent such reoccurrence. However, punishment in this context doesn’t mean violence; using sharp objects to flog a child or withdrawal of certain benefits.
In contrast, employ creative punishment such as letter writing, quantitative reasoning, or assigning household chores for kids. Furthermore, creative punishments are effective tactics to boost your child’s retention ability and enhance academic performance.
7. Rewarding Good Behaviour Reduces Siblings Rivalry
One of the ways to show approval over your kid’s behaviour is by rewarding and commending their good behaviours. In essence, whenever they relate with each other unitedly and show a great deal of understanding, they deserve to be rewarded. Ensure you let them know why they are being rewarded so they can continue on that path.
8. Ensure Your Kids are Occupied with the Needful
Oftentimes, idleness leads to opposition and hatred towards those that seem to be busy chasing their own goals. Hence, managing sibling rivalry requires that you get all your kids occupied with the needful—valuable activities. This includes developing their passion, learning soft skills, or assisting with the home chores.
To effectively learn the act of managing sibling rivalry, create a time when the family can come together and discuss matters. The more often this is done, everyone gets to express how they feel, understand how their other siblings think, feel, and the drive behind their behaviours. In addition, what’s your best method in managing sibling rivalry?