Calming Sibling Rivalry: Four Quick Tips

Is it possible that some degree of sibling rivalry is normal… and can actually provide opportunities for our kids to learn essential lifelong relational skills? Absolutely! But only as long as we have commonsense skills for ensuring that these conflicts don’t grow into chronic resentment, feelings of victimization, and constant family chaos. While the subject can be a complex one, here are four tips that can help keep the family atmosphere healthy:
 
Nurture each of your children’s unique strengths and gifts.
 
When children are noticed and appreciated for their unique interests and aptitudes, they are less likely to perceive that their parents have “favorite” children. Of course, favoritism is the kiss of death when it comes to sibling relationships.
 
Provide strong and loving leadership.
 
Love and Logic is all about helping parents become… and remain… loving and strong authority figures. Much of this is achieved by providing consistent and enforceable limits. When kids feel a lack of such leadership, they experience anxiety and subconsciously wonder, “Well… if our parents aren’t running this home, I better.” Chaos among siblings ensues as they compete for this leadership position.
 
Stay out of the middle, while guiding them toward solutions.
 
Most of us struggle with the temptation to rescue our kids from each other by placing ourselves in the middle of their conflicts. When we succumb to doing so, we send an unhealthy message: “If you want some attention, all you have to do is start a fight with your brother or sister. Then I’ll swoop in to rescue.”
 
In my audio, Sibling Rivalry, I describe how parents avoid making this mistake while guiding their children toward learning how to resolve their own conflicts.
 
Of course, we do rescue when life and limb are in obvious danger.
 
Use the “Energy Drain” technique to keep it their problem rather than yours.
 
We’ve received story after story of how parents have informed their children that bickering and arguing drains their parental energy. Of course, when this happens, kids are expected to replace this energy by completing extra chores, staying home from an activity so that their parents can rest instead of drive, etc.
 
While we can’t ensure that our kids always love and appreciate each other, we can create a home where it’s always in their best interest to work hard at doing so.
 
Dr. Charles Fay