Health Matters Spring 2022 - Page 7

Identify the causes of sibling rivalry
Take a hands-off approach at first
Avoid labels and comparisons
Offer one-on-one time

Coping with sibling rivalry

■ Parents know that relationships between siblings are not always smooth sailing . In fact , sibling rivalry is a component of many family dynamics . Parents may find that maintaining peace in the household when siblings bicker can be challenging . Yet there are ways for parents to mitigate sibling rivalries .
Siblings are the first friends many children have . A close relationship with a brother or sister can lay the foundation for a happy life and provide a built-in support system that only grows and matures as siblings age .
According to a 2014 study at the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University that examined relationships between siblings in more than 300 families , a quality relationship with a brother or sister may lead to children being more selfless . But this is only one of the many benefits of being a sibling .
Parents know that relationships between siblings are not always smooth sailing . In fact , sibling rivalry is a component of many family dynamics . Parents may find that maintaining peace in the household when siblings bicker can be challenging . Yet there are ways for parents to mitigate sibling rivalries .

Identify the causes of sibling rivalry

Before parents can get to the business of handling a sibling rivalry , they first need to understand what ’ s behind it . According to the Mayo Clinic , sibling rivalry tends to develop as siblings compete for their parents ’ attention , respect and love . Rivalries can be affected by the age gap of children ( those close in age may battle more often ), and their places in the family dynamic ( middle children may not feel they are getting the same share of privileges or attention as their older and younger siblings ). Children of the same sex also may be more likely to compete against one another .

Take a hands-off approach at first

Experts say that parents should first stay out of the rivalry . They should let children learn skills related to conflict resolution on their own . Parents can refresh their children ’ s minds on the importance of being patient and expressing emotions in a calm manner , according to the education company Discover Point . Parents shouldn ’ t be quick to mediate as soon as an argument occurs . If things get out of control , then parents can step in and serve as neutral parties in the dispute .

Avoid labels and comparisons

It ’ s human to want to categorize or organize things in our lives . Children inadvertently may be given titles , such as “ the jock ” or “ the brain ” of the family . Sometimes parents do not even realize they are labeling their children , such as when lamenting that a son or daughter always makes the family late , or that one seems to be a happy helper . These seemingly harmless observations may be setting up rivalries , especially if one child feels he or she is getting the short end of the stick . Parents should make every attempt to avoid voicing comparisons or labeling kids .

Offer one-on-one time

Families can and should do things together , but parents also can devote special and equal one-on-one time with each child . This can foster strong relationships and help each child feel respected and loved .
Sibling rivalry is a dynamic within many families . Certain strategies can diminish the likelihood of rivalries developing or help quash disputes .
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