Try explaining that to a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old who both want to play with the same toy at the same time. While these sorts of family conflicts can be aggravating for parents, studies show that sibling rivalry may be beneficial, teaching children skills like negotiating, bargaining, and conflict resolution.
That isn’t to imply that sibling rivalry is always a good thing.
Early Dispute Resolution
So, how can parents get the benefits of early dispute resolution while still protecting their children’s relationships and maintaining a tranquil home environment? (What a prank!) Parents may assist their children to deal with sibling rivalry in a variety of ways.
Your children strive for fairness. According to Donna Housman, Ed.D., founder and CEO of the Housman Institute, “three factors are often at the basis of most sibling rivalry: youngsters believing they’re getting different amounts of attention, degrees of responsiveness, and intensity of discipline.” Expect confrontations if they believe one kid is being picked out for particular attention or if their punishments are harsher than their brother or sisters.
Fair Treatment by Parents
Children want to be treated fairly, but they also don’t want to be treated like carbon clones. All children want to be unique and distinctive while they’re developing their sense of self, and they want to be acknowledged by their parents as more than replaceable siblings. The length and scope of the rivalry dictate how parents deal with this reality.
You may have heard parents say that children born too close together would be more competitive with one another, or that children born too far apart would face the wrath of an older sibling who is accustomed to being an only child.
These pearls of advice, though seeming sensible, aren’t backed up by research. Instead, each family’s balance determines the characteristics of its members, therefore there is no universal guideline.
Fading Over Time
It’s not uncommon for rivalries to fade away over time. Sibling relationships generally evolve closer to friendships by the time they reach maturity.
However, as the study points out, if resentments are not handled, they might last into adulthood. Sibling rivalry will be generated, maintained, or addressed, and deconstructed depending on how parents connect with one another, their individual children, their collective children, and their own siblings. Parents must handle sibling rivalry early on, teaching techniques and creating expectations for healthy interactions between siblings and the entire family because adult relationships are typically echoes of childhood attachments.
It fosters overly competitive behavior and reduces their sense of individuality. Dr. Holmes-Knight says, “Parents may refer to their children as “the smart one” or “the athletic one.” These labels have the ability to split families apart.” Even if you aren’t directly comparing them using labels, you may be encouraging comparisons by continually praising or criticizing one child more than the others, or by focusing more on one child’s needs and interests.
Rather than pitting individuals against one another, encourage empathy. It may also be useful to praise your children for each other. This way, you’ll be able to get all of the youngsters to work as a team.
Dr. Costello observes, “Knowing when to interfere is a tough calculus for parents.” In an ideal world, you’d want your children to be able to cope with disagreement on their own. It’s far more difficult in practice.
First and foremost, as a family, you must establish limits for actions that are never allowed, such as bullying and striking. These can have immediate ramifications.
Parents Should Participation
Parental participation in minor squabbles might be difficult to determine. It aids in the comprehension of the children’s triggers. Parents can act prior to the conflict starts if they understand the causes of it. If participating in sports usually results in fights, parents may keep a careful eye on their children and deescalate the situation before it gets out of hand.
Suppose, tensions build to the point where you must interfere. Parents should remain impartial, avoid taking sides, and ensure that sanctions deliver equitably to everybody. If you can’t share that game, I’m going to throw it away and no one will be able to play it.
Dr. Plummer gives this five-part technique for healthy dispute resolution when things become heated.
Setting the Tone
Your word will set the tone for the discussion. Say something uplifting. For example, It’s not always easy to express ourselves and find solutions. You’ve all succeeded, though. You’re fantastic. You’re great.
‘We are a family, and we will learn to get along, support one another, and cope with our feelings,’ says the narrator. Allow yourself to unwind (aka, separate the kids). This dispute, say, settles itself over time. I’d like every one of you to go to a separate room right now and take three deep breaths. I’ll be there in five minutes to check in with you.
Reiterate that you understand how they feel and that confrontation is unpleasant and difficult. All you have to do now is speak it out as a family.”
Parents should bring all the children together
Remind them that you care about them and support them both. Then you may begin the problem-solving procedure.” Ask one child to describe the situation. Ask them to express their feelings, and give two solutions. Carry on with the next child, then the next, and so on. Reiterate what the kids have said, and then ask the family to choose between some of the options.
Remember to congratulate them on their efforts. Say something uplifting, such as, “It isn’t always easy to communicate our thoughts and find solutions, but you all managed to do so. You’re fantastic. You’re great.
After some practice, your children will be well on their way to knowing how to settle conflicts.
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