How To Manage Sibling Rivalry

Raising two or more children has its advantage and disadvantages. One sole advantage is the buddy system, where parents can be assured that their children will always have someone to rely in their old age or should something happens to them and they will no longer be able to care for their children. The disadvantage is the bigger responsibility taken in by the parents. Aside from the need to increase financial support, the emotional development of children in relation to their sibling becomes more challenging.

The sequence of birth is one factor in siblings. The elder, being the first one out and having the chance to experience full attention from parents without anyone to share it with, has the natural tendency to defend his or her territory in the heart and mind of the parents. The usual outcome is jealousy and insecurity, which leads to tantrums or cave in. During the adjustment period, role definition is important to be explained or demonstrated to ensure the child that he or she will not lose a position in the family but gain one.

One thing that a parent needs to be conscious about is the distribution of praise and attention. Siblings are the most loyal and trusted friends ideally, but they are also ones constant and worse rival since strengths and weaknesses cannot be kept secret from each other. The tendency of siblings is to benchmark with each other in everything, creating a competitive environment in homes. At a young age, this can be addressed by finding a niche for each, to differentiate them with each other and not have direct comparisons in achievements. This prevents demoralization in events of one outdoing the other. When siblings share the same hobbies, it’s a nice common thing that they can enjoy, but it also gives mixed emotions in success stories. For the one that is in the shadow, a feeling of pride is present, but jealousy and insecurity are not far behind.

Acceptance of each child’s strengths and weaknesses, and customizing the things to develop are helpful to make each feel their uniqueness and worth. Though it takes more time and effort, and adjusting approach may be more cumbersome, the effect on the children as they grow older is well worth it.

The most important thing to avoid in managing two or more kids is to explicitly compare one to another directly. Words like “why can’t you be more like your sibling” are hurtful words that can cause long term effect on a child’s self esteem, and may lead to harboring feelings of hatred.

But the best way to ensure that love for each other prevails over jealousy and pride is showing by example how to accept each other’s flaws and shortcomings, and how to gracefully share in each other’s wins. With the parents leading the way on accepting each other, giving way and supporting each other, the children see for themselves the dynamics of family teamwork where sorrows are divided and joys are multiplied.


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