Dealing with sibling rivalry
She did this! He did that! That’s MINE! Growl, hiss… Jealousy between siblings leads to arguing and fighting at times in most families. Jealousy is normal – we all feel it – and learning how to cope with the feeling is very important. Learning how to deal with jealous feelings helps us learn open-mindedness and kindness and eventually helps us become independent.
Early jealousy usually stems from wanting Mom or Dad’s love and attention all for oneself – If I’m loved the most, I’ll be safe. So, it’s crucial that parents show love to all children with no favoritism, especially when the kids are “having at it.” Each child must feel loved and accepted for who he is (fun, funky, shy, outgoing, skinny, chubby…), not who he thinks you want him to be.
If your little tike is too small to stand up for himself or understand what’s behind an argument, a parental compromise or diversion can diffuse a scuffle. As they get a bit older and can fend for themselves, though, it’s best to stay out of arguments. Your blaming or taking sides will only make matters worse by inadvertently encouraging the “loser” to fight harder to get your approval next time. If you do feel a need to step in, just lay down the law of the land – “No fighting in this house!” And then, ignore all the arguments they’ll each give you for why they’re right and the other one’s wrong – and you know those arguments are gonna come! Keep your cool and show no interest (sometimes easier said than done!) You might say to them both, however, that they’re really neat kids and it truly makes you unhappy to hear them arguing.
What works in your home? We’ll talk about that special jealousy of a new baby in the house in a future post.