Sibling rivalry occurs between almost every sibling. It may not be an issue in some families, but other families are nearly torn apart by brothers’ and sisters’ hatred for one another.
In real life and fiction, no family is perfect. Every parent claims they do not have a favorite child, but sometimes it is hard for a parent not to be proud of one over another. As a result, sibling rivalries exist in many homes and can often be quite vicious.
Teenagers are especially prone to sibling rivalry. Since the teen years are already so difficult, problems like sibling rivalry can be blown completely out of proportion. A sibling doing better in school or a parent boosting the other child’s self-esteem can damage the teenage child more than most parents realize. As a parent, it is your responsibility to control sibling rivalry. Below are some of the most effective ways to reduce jealousy and help build long-lasting friendships between siblings.
Show love to all of your children equally. Tell your children that you love them and value each of them individually, and spend dedicated time with each child separately. This one-on-one time will show your children that they are important to you.
By preventing fights, you are teaching your children to work through their problems more maturely, and you also prevent hostile moods between your children. When stopping a fight, be sure to treat both children equally.
Never blame the elder child for the fight simply because they are the older sibling. This can lead to serious and sometimes lifelong feelings of resentment and lead them (and the younger sibling, as well) to believe that the younger sibling is able to “get away with anything” simply because they are the baby. Treat both children equally, and allow them each to give their sides of the story uninterrupted, as this promotes feelings of fairness.
Develop household routines. Have the family sit together for meals and family meetings, and set a schedule of different responsibilities for each child. A chore wheel with a rotating schedule helps to ensure fairness, as each child will have different chores depending on the week, which helps to prevent jealousy. Your family’s rules should be simple and clear, and each child should be reprimanded and rewarded equally for their choices about whether to break or follow the rules.
Never compare your children. Categorizing them by their dominant traits can be detrimental to their self-esteem. Introducing one as “the straight-A student” and the other as “the athletic one” helps to instill in your children’s minds that you value some of their traits over others. By typecasting siblings, they can easily see which one of them you believe is better, stronger, or smarter than the other. This greatly lowers the other child’s self-esteem, and it has a severely negative impact on the sibling relationship.
Keeping negative opinions to yourself
Although you should feel comfortable talking with your children about family dynamics, it’s important that you never “bash” one child in front of the other. Should the other child ever find out that you spoke badly about them behind their back to the other child, they will probably come to believe that you love the other child more than them. Treat your children with respect, and never give a child any reason to believe that you love them less than their brother or sister.
Although sibling rivalries may never be completely prevented, as a parent, you do have the power to minimize their negative impact. Treat your children as equally as possible, and give them the opportunity to develop in their own way without pressure to compete with their siblings. All children are unique- even children from the same family- so it’s important treat them as such and to avoid making comparisons between children.
Parenting through the teen years can be extremely difficult, and if things have gotten out of control, there’s no shame in admitting that you need the help of an expert. The qualified staff at Christian boarding schools are an excellent resource for helping you and your family through the trying teenage years. Specializing in treating troubled and at-risk teens, these schools approach education with a balance of discipline and love, and their methods have helped countless teens transform into intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually healthy young adults.