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Mel Gravely

Sibling Rivalry: Helping Children Get Along

sibling rivalryIf you have children, you know that maintaining peace in your household can be difficult. One minute your children are getting along and the next minute they’re at each other’s throats. Knowing when and how to intervene can make a difference in how your children relate to each other. Here are some suggestions from The Gravely Group to manage the peace in your household:

What causes sibling rivalry? Sibling rivalry typically develops as siblings compete for their parents’ love and respect. Signs of sibling rivalry might include hitting, name-calling, bickering and immature behavior. Moderate levels of sibling rivalry are a healthy sign that each child is able to express his or her needs or wants.

What factors might affect how well siblings get along? While sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up, many factors can affect how well your children get along with each other — including age, sex and personality, the size of your family, whether it’s a blended family, and each child’s position in it. For example:

  • Children close in age might battle each other more than children farther apart in age.
  • Children of the same sex might share more of the same interests, but they might also be more likely to compete against each other.
  • Middle children — who might not get the same privileges or attention as the oldest or youngest child in the family — might act out to feel more secure.

What steps can parents take to improve sibling relationships? All siblings are bound to fight, tease and tattle on one another at some point. Take steps to encourage healthy sibling relationships:

Respect each child’s unique needs. Treating your children uniformly isn’t always practical. Instead, focus on meeting each child’s unique needs. For example, instead of buying both of your children the same gifts to avoid conflict, consider buying them different gifts that reflect their individual interests.

Set the ground rules. Make sure your children understand what you consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior when it comes to interacting with each other, as well as the consequences of misbehavior.

Encourage good behavior. When you see your children playing well together or working as a team, be sure to compliment them.

Remember, all siblings fight or argue. Sibling rivalry is normal. However, by treating your children as individuals, listening to them and giving them opportunities to resolve their own problems, you’ll lay the groundwork for solid sibling relationships.


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