Do your kids remind you of Bart and Lisa Simpson for all the wrong reasons? Do you have your very own Venus and Serena competing for every last cookie, word of praise and to be first in the bathroom?
Sibling rivalry is your children’s way of asserting their position in the family and it also helps them to develop life skills such as survival, competition, striving for success and dealing with other people. Unfortunately for hapless parents, it can be a frustrating family issue fraught with varying degrees of severity.
There’s really nothing wrong with sibling rivalry, as long as it isn’t allowed to escalate into all-out war in the home. A bit of opposition between brothers and sisters can be healthy but as their parents, and indeed the governing party of the home, it’s your job to keep it under control. You need to see your family much like a country.
There needs to be a leader – or a coalition – and there are loyal subjects who have to observe and follow the rules.
Letting your kids ‘battle it out’ seems like a good idea sometimes but children need to be shown how to negotiate in order to achieve what they want. Without these skills, they may resort to underhanded tactics.
Help your children to understand that they are all individuals but they are also a part of the one family. Each has his or her own personality, likes, dislikes, needs and wants and to a great extent, these have to be accommodated by every other member of the family.
Tolerance and understanding should be displayed by everyone to everyone and it’s only when each and every person in the household does so, that harmony will reign.
Sibling rivalry, if not encouraged in its positive light, can fester into adulthood where brothers and sisters will have no guidance from their wiser, worldlier parents. Why do you think so much literature and so many movies have used it as compelling material? Think “The Godfather”, “In Her Shoes”, and even Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Think of Cain and Abel and God’s favoring of Abel, resulting in his murder at the hands of his brother.
As experienced adults who are able to see the world with more mature eyes, help your children to embrace their siblings and gain from them instead of constantly battling with them and ultimately, getting nowhere in particular.