I’ve just been interviewed by a journalist on BBC radio about sibling rivalry so here are my quick tips about positive and healthy ways to manage it.
If you’d like to find out more of my ideas, strategies and practical tips there’s more in Chapter 13 of my internationally Amazon best seller “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” on Amazon or you can download my CD called “Banishing the Bickering” available here
Start by building bonds between siblings by teaching them social skills including:
* Sharing. Sharing is the art of give and take and the skill of negotiating. To encourage sharing, put your children in charge of the sharing. For example, you might say, ‘I’ve bought some chocolate chip ice-cream. What’s the best way to share it out fairly?’
* Fairness. Siblings compare all the time, and the root of jealousy is when one of your children feels that the other gets special treatment or more attention or is loved more. Be fair in your dealings with them and make sure they know you value them equally and explain your thought processes.
As one dad on a course told me he said to his kids: ‘It’s not fair that some people thump their kids or that there are kids in the world starving to death. Life isn’t fair all the time so arguing about who gets the last Jellytot in the packet doesn’t seem very important to me. Get over it!’
* Unity. Develop a ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ mentality. Children work out the power of sticking together when they want something special for Christmas and pester together! Families work best when they stick together. Look out for one another and recognise your responsibility for each other. Even very young children can learn that ‘we all pull together and pitch in when things get difficult’.
* Celebrating uniqueness. Teach your children the importance of recognising and celebrating different strengths, talents, and skills without feeling jealous or inferior. If each of your children is made to feel special for his own talents, each child can have a well of self-esteem to draw on and feel secure in his individuality.
The idea of ‘your success is my success’ can be helpful in recognising differences. When my daughter won the Player of the Week netball award, my son was thrilled for her and very effusive in his praise. He likes to celebrate her successes just as she likes to celebrate his.
* Respect. Teach your children how to treat each other respectfully, even when conflicts arise. Show them how to express their anger without name calling or ridicule. Help them recognise and acknowledge their feelings with words and then teach them how to channel their angry feelings into ways that are acceptable, such as kicking a ball, running in the garden, or punching a pillow.