Sibling Rivalry Makes Me Want to Scream
In homes with multiple children, fighting between siblings is a common occurrence. Most parents start by ignoring the small squabbles. Later, they may try saying something quick like, “Knock it off.” However, in my experience, I’ve found using this method usually allows for things to escalate again. I’m mean, I’ve been to the point that I wanted to scream! Let’s take a deeper look at some possible causes of sibling rivalry, as well as better ways to deal with it.
A picture is worth a thousand words
For starters, take a look at the photo above. It looks adorable. Two sisters dancing in a heartfelt, joyful way. It is lovely and it is cute… But it is not as picturesque as it seems.
Unfortunately, here is the real truth behind the photo. Our middle child was actually attempting to push her little sister out of the way. She wanted to be photographed alone. Indeed, my middle child craves the limelight. The older brother, after hearing some of the complaints, decided that he wanted to be photographed alone as well.
Seriously, if this photo was taken 2 seconds later, everyone would’ve been caught in a tantrum.
Sibling rivalry happens all the time
Why am I sharing this backstory? Because sibling rivalry happens all of the time. As your children grow and develop their personalities, they are also learning how to deal with each other. Sometimes they get it right. Other times, they get it wrong. Part of our responsibility as parents is to find the root of the problem and provide the tools to solve it from a holistic approach.
Quick tips to remember:
- Take a deep breath.
- Try to change the focus.
- Allow for communication.
- Show grace, even to the offender.
The kids won’t stop fighting
Sometimes, it can feel like the kids are continuously fighting. It may also seem like every second is a new opportunity for your children to go head to head in all-out combat. It’s really hard to distinguish when to ignore the behavior or when to step in, especially when you’re frazzled.
This is perfectly understandable.
Parenting does not come with a training manual.
Before you cry your eyes out, let’s go over a few points to remember.
Reasons siblings argue
- They do not know how to divide resources
- Physical ailments such as hunger, tiredness, or pain
- Differences in opinion
- Lack of surrounding leadership
- Need for individual attention
Action Steps for Sibling Rivalry
If we take our children’s arguments methodically, we can go step by step to relieve the intensity of the situation. In your head, each time the kids start fighting, think, “There is a problem. Let’s solve the problem.”
Additionally, using these steps consistently will teach your child to practice the same routine, and they will begin to practice it independently.
Take a deep breath
Yelling at the kids is not going to solve anything. In the long term, losing our cool in front of our children shows that it is acceptable behavior. They will eventually mimic both our tone and our ferocity. Although it makes my blood boil when the kids start screaming, in order for problem-solving to be successful, I have to do my best to remain calm.
Try to change the focus
As the parent, you serve as the moderator. Just the same as preventing a tantrum, you can deflect their attention to more productive activities. If this does not work, then move onto the next step.
Allow for communication
If your child has the ability to speak, ask for their perspective on the situation. Repeat what you interpret from the conversation, and wait for agreement. Next, once you determine exactly what the problem is, you will then need to provide some clear instruction. This is different than the simple, “Knock it off.” This is specific feedback on how to solve the problem.
Lastly, when family members argue, there is bound to be some tears. It’s at this point that we show grace, even to the offender. We allow for apologies, and for forgiveness.
Remember, you are loved immensely by your children. Parenting is hard and there is not an over-night or one-time solution. You have the strength, the resources, and the capability. Until next time, take care.