Parenting Skills: Sibling Rivalry
parenting skills | August 15, 2018 | Pennsylvania Counseling Services, Inc.
Many times, children create conflicts with siblings to get their parents’ attention. To a child, a parent’s love represents safety, security and power. When a child feels a sibling may be more important, jealousy and competitiveness take precedence over kindness and patience, and sibling rivalry emerges.
Additional problems can also arise in step-sibling relationships because the child has to adjust to a new parent, new siblings and sometimes a new home. Often, there’s a shift in the child’s position in the family. They might move from the oldest to the middle child and no longer have the most privileges or move from the youngest to the oldest child with no preparation for the additional responsibility.
With step-siblings it’s important that both parents reassure the children that their value has not changed, even though their position in the family may have.
Many child development experts recommend that parents don’t intervene in their children’s rivalry until it’s necessary. Because so many conflicts stem from the need for a parent’s attention, intervention often has a negative effect. Children learn that playing the victim will get them what they want. Each child becomes determined to be the victim the next time to gain the parent’s attention. This sets the stage for more fighting.
Although it’s best to allow children to learn to work through their differences, it’s important that you get involved in their disputes when:
a child is happy about their sibling feeling hurt or sad
a child talks seriously about hurting their sibling
siblings intentionally avoid each other
a child finds satisfaction in humiliating a sibling in front of others
a child appears afraid to be with another sibling
Any of these signs can indicate a problem more serious than normal sibling rivalry, and it’s important to determine the cause. If your child won’t talk to you, or if problems persist or intensify, it may be necessary to speak to your physician or seek professional help.
TIP #1: GIVE EQUAL CONSEQUENCES
TIP #2: DON’T CHOOSE SIDES
TIP #2: DON’T SHOW FAVORITISM