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Using sibling rivalry to teach conflict resolution skills

July 2nd, 2018

Parents are often concerned about their children fighting and arguing with each other. When siblings fight, there is no holding back. They may kick, pull hair, choke, punch, a fight until the finish. This constant fighting may cause stress on the parents as well as the children. Sibling rivalry is the beginning of a long tedious and loving relationship.

SiblingsEvery person is so different from one another, even siblings. Their position in the family, their age, their gender, etc… all vary and these are all roles to play in their lives that may cause sibling rivalry. And of course, the fact that they both have to share the people that they want the most for themselves: Their parents. Sibling rivalry can be stressful and frustrating but it is inevitable. Sometimes this rivalry can occur due to different life circumstances such as divorce, death of a parent or grandparent, changes in finances, and the maturity of the parent, which can all play a role in the “competition” between siblings. Children learn by observation; if they are constantly witnessing arguments from their parents or watching violent TV, they are very likely to copy these sort of behaviors. Parents can also intensify the rivalry by comparing one to the other, dismissing or suppressing the child’s angry feelings, avoiding situations which promote guilt in the child and, given the situation, let the children settle their own differences.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are some tips that can be used in order to manage conflict between the children:

  • Children needs are different and parents should give each child the individual attention they need, as each needs to know they are unique.
  • Avoid making comments about their differences in front of them, yet make each child feel special.
  • It is better for parents to let their children resolve their own problems but if needing to get involved, remain impartial. Facilitate problem solving by having them state their argument in a factual and positive way. Celebrate the way they resolve conflict so they can apply skills later on.
  • When reprimanding one child, do not embarrass him or her in front of the other sibling to respect the child’s privacy.
  • Be a good role model by having family meetings to address conflict, showing ways that children can use a guidance for their next argument. Equip them with the tools that they can use later on.

Sibling rivalry can decrease as the children grow up if they develop better communication and social skills, and if they learn to identify and manage their emotions. Not teaching them these important skills early will result in continued rivalry into their teens and even later on to adulthood. Help your children learn the necessary skills to turn conflict into a learning experience that increases their bond with one another.

For more information about sibling rivalry and conflict resolution, please contact us.

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