Sibling Rivalry: 5 Thoughtful Parenting Techniques To Prevent It

Children fight and bicker and there is no way around that. Nonetheless, the ruthlessness in which they engage each other can be assuaged through these 5 thoughtful parenting techniques:

1. Be Explicitly Fair to Each Child

Rivalries occur when there is a perceived difference in how one child gets treated over the other, when favorites emerge, and a sense that unanimous fairness (that the rules apply to everyone) is missing.

To prevent favoritisms,
and… yes, you are not immune to this either, certain house rules must apply to everyone. When one child violates a mandate they should be reprimanded with the same severity as the other child (note: assuming they are similar ages). This will create a sense of fairness and may actually promote empathy between your children as they know how terrible it is to be “on the wrong side of the fence.” That said, if you aren’t deliberately fair with your distribution of your rage punishments, you may inadvertently stir rivalries.

2. Cultivate Relationships with Each Child Individually

Each of your children are unique individuals with their own personalities and proclivities. As such, it is important for you as a parent to cultivate a relationship with each child individually.

In order to circumvent tension points between siblings, a great strategy is to spend time with each one alone, without the other, doing something new or exciting. This will enable you to create bonds on a one-to-one level. It also engenders self-worth and deepens your personal relationship with each child. Be sure to do this with all of your children and to do so in a rotating manner so each child feels appreciated and important.

While one child is in school or at a sleepover with another friend, plan something for the other(s). Take the child that’s staying home to the theater or do some new activity that’s not within the scope of normal day-to-day life. Make it a point to utilize opportunities when one child is elsewhere to get to know the other sibling, his or her quirks, likes and dislikes, nuanced idiosyncrasies: their unique personality. This will foster bonds and trust with your children and will let them know that they are all seen as very important to you.

3. Keep Them Sufficiently Occupied

Bickering among children often is a result of boredom. Have you noticed, however, that the complaints, yelling, and accidents seem to not occur when your children are actively engaged and immersed in something intellectually curious or interesting?

Children have an incredible ability to focus… when they want to. And when would they want to focus? When they are enjoying themselves and sufficiently challenged. Most parents fallback to videogames and television to keep their children occupied. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for these forms of entertainment, but there are healthier and better alternatives. Sports are an amazing solution. Building things is another fantastic activity. Both of these solutions advocate teamwork and individual expression. Keep your children busy and you will notice the bickering to decrease. For more fun and inexpensive children activities, click here.

4. Be Mindful About What Enters Your Child’s Experiences

This includes being aware of how different foods like candy and sugary snacks affect your children’s energy levels, but it also includes what they hear, read, see, experience.

Be careful about “what goes in” because children are like sponges and integration machines taking all these inputs, both physically and emotionally, and outputting behaviors witnessed. If they see violence on the television, they are more likely to act out the scene – unfortunately on each other.

5. A Favorite Child, Don’t Have One

Studies have illustrated that even infants under a year old are aware of the subtle differences in the way they are being parented. Even if you do get along better with one of your children, you should make it a point to not display this.

One of the worst things you can do to increase sibling rivalries is to compare one to another. These comparisons are painful to endure and create resentment among your kids. Instead of comparing, appreciate their differences and celebrate them.

Finally, make sure to keep a balance between the amount of money, support, and attention you offer one child over the other. Children, even adult children, perceive physical support to be equivalent to the amount of love received. Fairness is tantamount to mitigating sibling rivalries.


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