- 3 mins
Parental Worries: How to Manage Sibling Rivalry
Let’s face it, we’ve all had arguments in our lives, seldom with strangers. As siblings go through different stages in life, egos are bound to get bruised, feathers will get ruffled, personal spaces invaded, unspoken rules broken and fighting will happen.
Regardless of what age gap and other differences may be present between your children, however many you have, sides are likely to form on who is wrong or right. According to Ferrar et al. (2022), sibling relations elicit significant conflicts and emotional connections while forming powerful bonds. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be the referee in these inevitable situations.
Whining can strike a nerve, even in the steadiest model parents. These moments may get our amygdala fired up – that tiny part of the brain we share with lizards ( we wholeheartedly recommend Dr.Dean Burnett’s book: “Idiot Brain” ).
Shouting, crying, moaning or even when an argument unfolds before your very eyes, it can be difficult to keep emotions in check. If a series of deep breaths can help you achieve zen, do indulge. Try to remain calm during these moments of chaos. And when else fails, doors are fantastic! Get to the other side of one, close it and take some time to find balance again. Once at peace, you will be able to control your actions and, in turn, model emotionally intelligent behavior to your children.
Yes, we all love all our children equally, but there is bound to be one that’s easier to empathize with, even if only at a particular moment in time. Be honest with yourself about this and take it into account. Pay attention to how you react and be mindful of this potential bias if you can.
Many sibling fights are born out of miscommunication. To get an idea of what’s going on, have both parties state their peace. Chip in if you think you can make a meaningful and meditated contribution. Moments like these are an excellent opportunity to share your own childhood experiences that could help them relate. It always helps to remind your children and yourself that not so long ago, you were a child too.
While this may not be much, we find that a simple strategy will prove to be effective when siblings are fighting. So to conclude, DO keep it simple. Life is complicated enough already!
Ferrar, S. J., Stack, D. M., Baldassarre, K. S., Orsini, A., & Serbin, L. A. (2022). Conflict Resolution and Emotional Expression in Sibling and Mother-Adolescent Dyads: Within-Family and Across-Context Similarities. The Journal of early adolescence, 42(2), 227–261.