I used to have fantastical visions of my kids playing nicely side-by-side, sharing toys willingly, complimenting one another and offering endless love and support, completely void of sibling rivalry… and then all that came to a screeching halt because by then, I actually had kids.
This dream world I conjured up was just that and the expectations I had my children were completely unrealistic.
Now I know that sibling fighting is totally normal but what’s most important is how I handle it as a parent.
Sure, my kids love each other and play well together, but they also fight like cats and dogs.
Somedays I want to lock myself in the closet to muffle the sounds of bickering and heck, some days I may even disappear into my bedroom to devour a handful of hershey kisses in order to cope.
That’s totally normal coping behavior, right?
So, let’s be real. I cannot and should not possibly expect my kids to get along all the time because I don’t get along with everyone I know and see all the time either, right? Do you? Probably not.
This was my lightbulb moment; it’s all completely natural and not me failing at my parental duties.
And what’s more is that my children’s relationships with each other will not be determined by the minuscule and insignificant sibling fights they have right now at age five or six or even ten and twelve as long as we have a positive home and I remain steadfast in helping them learn how to communicate with each other.
What I know is that each of my kids is a different person with different temperaments, feelings, tolerance, energy levels and interests. And with all these differences between them, they may act like best friends most of the time and during the other times, it may still feel like mixing combustable ingredients together in some sketchy science experiment.
Remember this: Your kids are just little people who live together and share all that they are with one another, all the time.
So, while I’ve worked hard to help our kids get to a more positive place with each other, here is a snap shot of the bickering I used to hear every day…
- “Mom, he hit me!”
- “I’m never playing with you again.”
- “Mom, Juliette isn’t playing nice.”
- “Trenton isn’t sharing with me!”
- “I just don’t want to play with him anymore.”
- “He said something really mean to me!”
Take a deep breath and know that sibling fighting is totally normal.
It’s all about how we choose to handle sibling bickering is what will make all difference in your children’s relationships with one another, and their communication and conflict resolution skills.
Instead of seeing conflict as a negative thing between your kids, look at the opportunities that sibling fighting gives you, as hard as this can be at times. The teachable moments you have will lead to something bigger in the path to having a positive home and ultimately better sibling relationships.
When you use a positive approach to handle sibling fighting and sibling rivalry, your children will learn how to understand their own feelings, communicate emotions, learn conflict resolution skills and ultimately build better bonds with their brothers and sisters and their parents.
UNEQUAL TREATMENT & JEALOUSY
Sibling fighting can stem from a parent’s unbalanced treatment of kids and the jealousy is causes them. It may not be intentional, but children pick up differences in parenting by the way you treat your children in action and with your words.
Unequal treatment can include a difference in rules and consequences for your children that may be more strict or more lenient when compared side-by-side.
Do you discipline your children differently or are more lenient when it comes to follow-through on consequences with your daughter than your son?
Do you use a different tone of voice with one child than the other?
This can also include talking about each children’s strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments . This may be in everyday conversations you have with your kids, in front of siblings or to other people, and especially when you think your children are out of earshot.
Those little ears hear most everything, and can read between the lines more than you like to think.
For example, your daughter overhears your phone conversation where you are bragging about your son’s recent sports accomplishments and what a great parent teacher conference you just had on his behalf. In the conversation, you talked all about your son but failed to mention you daughter and while you didn’t notice, you can bet that she certainly did.
Be careful, and be aware of how you speak about each of your children when they are around and when they are not.
Children are able to read between the lines very easily and can pick up on the tone of your voice and subtle body language and this creates jealousy between siblings who feel they need to “one-up” the other or hurt the other to make themselves feel bigger.
COMPARISONS HURT CHILDREN
Don’t ever compare siblings – accomplishments, behavior, education, failures – anything.
This is a major no-no.
Your children are individual people and should never be compared to one another in any way. Comparisons can lead kids to feelings of insecurity with their parents and among the family, as well as feelings of being insufficient and jealous of their sibling(s).
Children are very aware and afraid that their sibling may be receiving more love, or have more love of their parents.
Be fair in the way you treat, love and discipline your children so that they can trust in their parents and structure of the family. Confident children don’t question their place in their home and with their parents and siblings.
It’s so important to remember that kids have different temperaments and basic needs.
One child may have more patience and can play independently while the other needs their emotional or physical needs met with more attention, and what makes your kids unique is a gift, not something that needs to be compared in any way.
INSECURITY IN THE FAMLY STRUCTURE
When children feel insecure about the place they have in their family and about themselves, they act out of jealousy and for attention as they try to establish their place.
Insecurity can stem from a lot of places, but almost all of these are tied to the relationship with their parents – the most important and influential relationship children have.
Insecurity is a feeling of not knowing one’s place or importance in their family. Several reasons for this can include:
- Not having a strong parent-child relationship,
- Children who seek more attention from parents whether you work outside of the home or don’t make enough meaningful connections with their kids each day. You may have multiple children in your home and one child may feel left out or left behind.
- Unequal treatment and comparisons between siblings
When children feel insecure, they have low self-esteem and confidence and act out with attention-seeking behaviors against their siblings in order to get the attention they so desperately want.
You Might Like…
- Why You Say Yes to Your Child More Often – Learn the Magic Rule of 5:1
- Want to Raise Confident Kids? Do This!
- How to Handle Sibling Fighting
- How to Create a Positive Home
- 8 Ways to Find One-on-One Time with Each Child Every Day