“Hatred stirs up dissension but love conquers all wrong.” (Proverbs 10:12) Sibling rivalries is a very controversial topic in its own way however all children to a certain extent argue and disagree with their siblings; some just more extreme than others. Sibling relationships are extremely important during childhood and throughout life in general. Siblings help structure a person’s very first peer group, which children learn social skills, conflict resolution and how to maintain friendships as they intermingle with their siblings through the years. Sibling relationships are often the longest-lasting relationships that a person can have, so strengthening these relationships will provide security and support to a person’s life.
Often time’s siblings disagree because one feels like they have to compete with one another. For example, one of them is more athletic or makes better grades instead of remembering that we all have gifts and talents. Rather than embracing and trying to figure out their strengths children may dwell on the sibling who in their opinion is doing better or the “perfect child” they crave the love and attention that the one sibling is receiving; when all the time they receive the same love and attention and chose to go a different route. What is a parent to do? How do you foster positive relationships among your children? Tips include but are not limited to:
- Schedule fun family activities.
- Teach and practice problem solving skills.
- Parents need to be good role models.
- Give your children tasks that they have to compromise to accomplish a goal.
- Try to meet each child’s unique needs without showing favoritism.
- Praise kids when they help, support or cooperate with each other.
- Structure activities that will focus on particular social skills: turn taking, active listening, encouraging others, agreeing to disagree.
As parents we wear different hats; particularly throughout conflict management, it is imperative that you are in the mediator and modeling role of what conflict resolution “looks” and “sounds” like. Helping your children acquire these skills does take time and energy, but they soon become part of family life. Besides, your efforts will have lasting benefits. Your kids are developing positive ways of dealing with others that will be useful outside the family as well. Sibling relationships give rise to some of life’s greatest joys and some of its angriest fights, but no matter how much time passes or how far they travel, brothers and sisters can be forever friends!
Michelle Macon has been with Partners In learning since 2006 and serves as the Program Coordinator and Family Support Advocate. She holds an associate’s degree in early childhood development and a bachelor’s degree in birth through kindergarten education. She is a mother of two children and has experience working with infants and toddlers.