Sibling rivalry and jealousy is often present in families with more than one child and you see it when siblings bicker constantly and don’t get along with each other. There can be many reasons for this behaviour but it usually has to do with the child feeling like his parents love the other siblings more than him or feeling like he is getting less attention than the others.
Our 5-year-old has been dealing with his own feelings of jealousy since our second son was born. We are working on helping him manage his feelings and emotions and finding strategies to deal with the sibling rivalry now to avoid issues that can get carried over into his adult life.
Some of the strategies we have been following and implementing at home with our 5-year-old and 2-year-old are:
- No Violence Rule: We have a no violence rule in the house and the children know that physical violence is unacceptable. No matter how upset they are they should not turn to violence and all arguments must be resolved peacefully. It is also important to praise them when they solve conflicts or arguments peacefully.
- Stop Hurtful Comparisons: We have stopped comparing our children in front of them. Hearing sibling comparisons and criticism can hurt their feelings and they may interpret it as you loving them less than their siblings.
- Encourage Relationship Building Activities: Lately we have been really encouraging our eldest to help his brother do little things that he is not able to do on his own yet. He loves helping his baby brother and he enjoys feeling like the older, wiser child who is being helpful. We praise this behaviour and our youngest LOVES having his brother’s attention as well.
- Alone Time With Each Child: We have also been making an effort to set time aside to focus on “mommy and me” or “daddy and me” time with each one of the boys. The one-on-one individual time is so important for everyone! Both boys are always thrilled to have our undivided attention for that time.
- Give the Kids Their Own Space: It is important to set up a space that is your child’s own personal space to keep their own toys apart from the shared ones. I have to work hard at keeping our toddler from grabbing some of his things without his brother’s permission but it is important to be consistent. I find a lot of the conflict starts when he feels his brother doesn’t respect his own personal things.
- Don’t Scold Your Child in Front of His Sibling: Whenever you are disciplining your child it is important to take a moment to find a quite, private place to do so. I often go and have a chat with the offending child in their room away from the other child as needed. It is easy for siblings to tease each other and create unnecessary tension and you want to avoid that.
How do you deal with sibling rivalry and jealousy? I would love to hear your tips and what works for your family!