Sibling Rivalry
Blog Posts,  Family

Sibling Rivalry Will Be The Death of Me!

I’m not sure what’s worse. Being asked for a snack every few minutes, toddler tantrums or siblings that just won’t give it a rest! Our family has incredibly good great days, and then there are some like today when I wish I could stick my head in the sand and pretend I’m on an island holiday.

The struggle is real! Sibling rivalry is exhausting friends. It sucks the life right out of you. How many times can you say, “please stop arguing” or “please can you just listen to each other and get along?”. Not enough I guess.

Apparently it stems from the need to have your attention 24/7, a total dislike for one another, or even just plain boredom. I think it’s a combination of all of these, and in a family as large as mine it’s inevitable. I try, I really try to give each child some individual attention during the day, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes life gets in the way. Does that make me a bad mom? I sincerely hope not.

There are times when it gets so bad that I actually have no idea how to deal with it. I realise that they each have their own personalities and ways of doing things, preferences for how things should play out, I get that. I’m just not always sure of how to act in a moment of my own frustration when faced with the fighting. And I’m sure I often make it worse than what it actually would be.

Since making the decision to work from home and homeschool my children, I’m trying incredibly hard to be more present in every  situtation. Even the difficult ones.

How am I dealing with sibling rivalry?

1. Letting them solve it themselves.

OK, hear me out, if they’re trying to kill each other obviously I’ll step in. However, I’m finding that sometimes letting them argue it out actually has a positive spin-off. They manage to get all those frustrations out by yelling at each other. Let’s be honest here, we also get mad, and yes we do yell at times. So why are we trying to stop our children from releasing their frustration? I do think it’s important to turn the yelling into a teaching lesson by explaining that we can still have robust conversations without shouting and that it’s OK to disagree with someone.

2. Reminding them that saying sorry is respectful.

There are times when my husband and I have a difference of opinion (as most couples do), and although I would love to stand my ground and assert my stubborness, the reality is that sometimes and I say sometimes 🙂 I too need to apologise for something I’ve said or done. Just like that I believe my children need to learn to apologise to each other if they have stepped out of line.

3. Separating the little critters.

I say critters in the most loving way possible, but this is where I need to check my own frustration levels and theirs. There are times when no amount of intervening will help and a simple time-out in their rooms can calm a stormy situation. Time out for me happens in many different forms. It can be lying on their beds, reading a book or enjoying the scenery of the cream coloured wall in our home (yes, my kids still sit in a corner sometimes). As grown-ups we also need to step away from an aggravating situation, why should it be any different for our children?

4. Disciplining equally

Now, I firmly believe that what works for one child might not necessarily work for another. This is tricky but, in my opinion, very important. We all have very different personalities in our homes, but disciplining according to the individual without making the other child feel inferior is a hard task, even more so when the children are so close in age.  I haven’t mastered this one yet and I don’t have all the answers. What I try to do is ensure that BOTH perpetrators are very clear on the fact that I have had enough and there are consequences for their behaviour.

5. Family meetings

Every now and then when the peace in our home has exploded like a faulty hand-grenade, we have a family meeting. We don’t start the meeting on a negative tone with long lectures of how bad they’ve been. We start by allowing each of them to tell us how they feel and encouraging them to express their emotions in a calm manner and without interruption. Once all the emotions have been expressed, we jump in and explain to them what the negative behaviour was and remind them of the behaviour that is expected in our home. This “formal” meeting is always closed in love and cuddles.

Dealing with sibling rivalry is still somewhat of a mystery to me and I haven’t yet fully mastered the art of dealing with it effectively. However, I try very hard to not lose my temper, and I often walk away feeling more like a winning parent than a failure.

How do you deal with sibling rivalry in your home? I would love to gain some more insight.

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10 Comments

  • Shelley Whittaker

    Thanks for sharing your insights Jacqui. We only have one daughter so don’t have to deal with sibling rivalry, but we definitely have the toddler tantrums and utter frustration at parenting. I very much like the idea of family meetings! Shelley #ItsOK

  • Danielle

    I’m a fan of letting them fight it out as well, though this is often easier said than done. I also struggle with the different retributions being appropriate for different ages. My nearly five year old doesn’t get that there are different expectations of her than the toddler. I’m starting to try to point out when she’s able to do things that he can’t as well in the hope she’ll see that good things come from being older and not only bad things.

  • Helen Copson

    My twins fighting each other constantly has literally kicked my ass this week. They’re too young to understand much but they don’t seem too young to give one another a black eye! Great tips here, thanks! #itsok

  • MomOfTwoLittleGirls

    I’m a big fan of family meetings. We aim for one every Sunday, but sometimes when we’ve skipped a few we end up having a BIG family meeting, which sadly does contain some lecturing, but that might be the week I’m pmsing. – I’m not a perfect parent just by the way! lol
    #itsok

  • Emma

    I let mine sort it out themselves but sometimes offer my opinion on what should happen to resolve it. They either get bored of arguing or refuse to play with each other for a little while. #itsok

  • Tracey Carr

    I deal with this a lot when it comes to my two daughters and I have to say that I am a big supporter of disciplining equally. They are paying so much attention to how I deal with these arguments that if I am not addressing both of them for the part they played in it, you can be guaranteed that it will make the situation and rivalry worse. I also separate them whenever necessary. You have a lot more to contend with than I do though! #itsok

  • Rachel - Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles

    We’ve just entered this stage… until now my two have always got on so well, but at 6 and almost 4 they’re beginning to clash and I too don’t know how to deal with it at times! They can be so headstrong and stubborn and when neither want to back down, it’s so hard to manage!! #itsok

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