Coping With Sibling Rivalry Without Losing Your Mind
Sibling Rivalry Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
Sibling rivalry seems to be inevitable if you have little ones close in age. They might fight over toys and friends, or, act out in order to get your attention. Since I grew up as an only child, I have little experience in dealing with sibling squabbles. I turned to three mamas I admire for insight on how they deal with rivalries. What I learned from them is incredibly valuable.
I first spoke with Lindsey Harman of Arrival Arts (www.arrivalarts.com). She has three vibrant boys, ages 10, 6 and 3.
As a family, their focus is on each individuals’ strengths. This fosters a family dynamic of appreciation and acceptance. One piece of advice on sibling rivalry she offered is having one sibling be “in service” of the other if they have done something to upset the other.
Being “in service” can look different for every family, but for them, it means to “pay attention to the [their] needs and feelings”. Lindsey went on to ask, “How can [he] help him feel like a prince? How can [he] help his brother feel honored? Feel safe? Feel confident?” Those are the questions we can ask our children to help guide their actions towards others.
When sibling rivalry develops between siblings, it’s important to give them both time and space. Liza, mother to three darling girls (9, 7, 16 months) offered this advice on how to prevent rivalries from developing: “We try to do things with each daughter individually when we can. For example, I will take one girl on errands and the others will stay at home with their dad… I try to let them know how much I enjoy spending time with just her and tell her how helpful she is.”
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Having twins seems like a situation where sibling rivalry would form due to the struggle for fairness. I spoke with Jen, who has talented twins (age 7, boy and girl) and a sweet 3-year-old daughter.
Jen said, “When conflict and sibling rivlary does happen, I will always ask to hear all details from each of them and try to make it fair for all.”
It’s incredibly important that our children feel heard and confident enough to communicate their emotions to us. Allowing these opportunities to occur will help our children’s behavior if we remain present and receptive.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Liza. “Someone gave us a piece of advice when our oldest daughter was born that we have never forgotten. She said, ‘Every day, tell your [children] that you love [them] and that you’re proud of [them].’ These are the last words we tell our girls each night when we tuck them in. We try to emphasize kindness and we let them know that we will always love them, no matter what, and that we are proud.”
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