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Sibling Rivalry: When and How to Intervene

Sibling Rivalry: When and How to Intervene My sister had a son soon after she had a daughter. When I got the news, my first feeling w...


Sibling Rivalry: When and How to Intervene

My sister had a son soon after she had a daughter. When I got the news, my first feeling was not over-joy or excitement, I admit it. They weren’t of love, either. 


The feeling was of worry. It was fear! How will the pair survive? How my sister will establish a balance between the two. 


In fact, I was too scared, I didn’t think of balance. My thoughts race towards determining who will be the ruler of the house and who will be submissive. Call me pessimist, but the worries were real. 


I, myself have suffered a not-so-healthy sibling rivalry all my life (at the hands of the same sister, if you wanna know 😃 The struggle was years long and it left its marks even after we both moved out.

Sigh!

‘History will be repeated!’ I thought.

But it didn’t. Turned out her kids were far more tolerant and supportive of each other than we ever were. How? I wondered and came up with some differences in parenting approaches which

ignited the sibling bond beyond rivalry. 



Elder Gets the Spotlight


I freaked out when I heard she was going to use this tactic!

You will ignore an infant only because his sister is not in the mood!!

You are cruel!

But, boy, she knew her stuff.

She knew that when the parents welcome a new kid at home the life and reality of the elder one gets shattered. Once she had the sole attention from her parents and now there is a thief stealing away her joy? She feels a lack of control. She feels ignored. All the people she depended on are moving away from her. 


Trust is deserting her.

Her reaction is natural. Parents need to factor in this behavior before planning their little ones for the happiness of their family. As natural as this behavior is, it is easy to handle if parents are tactful. 


Some tips I learned from my sister are below. Just let me know if you have implemented some other approach successfully.


She Intervened Early On


Parent coaches and psychologists advise against intervening in healthy sibling conflicts. There is a lot of information that detail methods to stop sibling bullying, but sibling rivalry can be easily dealt with mindful parenting approach and a right communication. But some interventions are not meant to mend the issue; they are to set the right path of dealing with it. For my sister, she set the path from day one of the relationship between her daughter and son. 


From the day she brought her second kid home, my sister ensured her eldest that she is still in the spotlight of her mother’s attention. Sure, she had to sometimes allow her son to weep for a few minutes at a time to soothe the sudden tantrum of eldest (that was a response of youngest cry for attention), but, come on, few minutes didn’t elicit the cry-it-out approach’s damage in the youngest, did it?


Rather, the eldest got the hint that she is preferred in comparison to her sibling. AND it prompts them to be empathetic towards younger ones they are distressed, mom please help them.





(By the way, there is a better way of empathizing with the elder sibling's needs and wants than prioritizing them over those of younger ones. But I admit my sister is not a child psychologist.)

She Intervened Proactively


Even in the presence of (genuine) empathy, the conflicts are going to surface, right? You can choose to eliminate these conflicts, increase the animosity prevalent in them, or you can choose to deal with them in a healthy way. 


Telling one sibling to submit will only make them resentful and other entitled, or regretful. Remember all of your children want you to remain non-judgmental. And this will be impossible if you are trying to resolve an issue where you need to identify one as a hero and other as villain.


So, instead of telling them who was at fault among them, my sister told them in advance what behaviors relate to villains and which relate to heroes. This way she didn’t need to point out their mistakes in the middle of a conflict, they could assess their behaviors themselves. 


Her stories and acts didn’t really bring peace to the home. But it did help the children to understand themselves as little humans and process their emotions more effectively. 


She Transformed Moment of Conflict into Moment of Learning


You put all your efforts.

You love them unconditionally.

You like them for the unique individuals they are.

You tell them what is right and what is wrong.

And then just an hour after enjoying a lovely one-to-one meeting with your child, she is actively engaged in snatching her brother’s toy. 


Huh! And you think what impact your efforts are making. Frustration holds you. And you feel like shouting at them. 


Well, this is difficult, especially in the presence of all love and individual attention we provide to our children. But we have to make peace with these fights and conflicts. 



Patience is the first lesson you want to teach your kid. And, believe me, you are not teaching it when you are getting frustrated at how pointless your efforts are. So, my sister

·        Practices patience to teach patience to her kid,

·        Refrains herself from acting on the strong impulse of putting her child off,

·        Eats away those lectures that come to her tongue and focuses on why every conflict can become a bonding experience among your children, and

·        Diverts her attention from the negatives of conflicts to its positives.

Once achieved a peaceful mental state, she can think of a matter which will easily distract the disturbing child.

Wrap Up


I am not a big advocate of having small gap between children. However, regardless of the gap they have between them, your little mindfulness about their needs from you and their siblings will help them navigate through first social complexity in their lives.

Happy Growing!


Author Bio:
Syeda Aruba lives in a world that is not away from yours yet full of contentment and self-satisfaction. She believes that she can, and everyone in retrospect, can produce happiness within themselves by knowing the right tools and making a commitment. She is committed to making the world a better place for all to live in. You can read her stories at her blog.

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