It’s a familiar scene. You’ve just come home from work after a long day. You’re hungry and tired and it’s time to fix dinner, but the children are at it in the kitchen, fighting over events of the day.
Sibling rivalry is a routine part of growing up in families, but when that fighting turns into constant arguments, fights and the creation of some potentially dangerous situations, it should be dealt with. Here are some tips to reduce your frustration over quarrelsome siblings and lessen the fighting, too.
First, let siblings express their feelings. Instead of trying to talk the children out of their feelings by saying, “Stop complaining. He’s the only brother you have!” Try saying, “Sounds like you’re pretty mad at Ben.” Help them talk through their feelings.
It is also natural for parents to notice one child is more cooperative or better behaved than another, but comparing siblings does not encourage better behavior. It only intensifies jealousy and envy. Instead, try to comment only on the disagreeable behavior and avoid telling one child that a sibling is better at something.
In addition, trying to avoid arguments by giving equally to each child only encourages comparisons by children. No matter how hard parents try to make things equal, children are bound to find something that’s unfair. Instead, try to give to each according to individual need and interest.
Avoid taking sides in sibling fights. Instead, try to let children work out differences. Trying to figure children who started a fight is nearly impossible and even if you are sure who started the fight, taking sides only makes things worse. In addition, the more you stay out of minor fights, the sooner they will learn to settle their differences.
It may sound like fighting will stop magically if only you do the right thing, but realistically it takes time and persistence for you to learn new ways of treating your children and for them to learn new ways of getting along.
Don’t give up. It may even seem like it is getting worse before it gets better, but in the long run you will be teaching your children how to get along better. That will prepare them for important relationships in the future.
For more information on child development, contact Diane at (912) 871-6130, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ugaextension.com/bulloch.