Whenever you have two or more kids, there’s more than likely a chance for sibling rivalry. Two of my boys are one year apart to the day. They are almost two and almost three years old. Baby sister arrived in January. One minute they are hugging and the next they are wrestling, one-minute laughing and the next screaming. Much of this behavior is due to sibling rivalry, and also I believe due to their ages. Fox is much gentler with his baby sister but if he is behaving jealously, then I can’t trust that he wouldn’t touch/hurt her. I can’t trust Jet for one second around her, just because he doesn’t understand that his gentle, is not gentle.
At almost two, Jet now wants everything that big brother, Fox has. Previously this need to compare and compete didn’t come into the equation. But most of the competing is between each other and they love baby sister Sky.
Sibling rivalry is an inevitable consequence of having children. The degree of sibling rivalry, and whether or not it has long-term positive or negative consequences, depends on how the parents react. We need to promote sibling harmony and discourage rivalry that we are seeing even at this young age.
Here are 6 simple ways to help encourage your children to be friends with each other:
- Make siblings feel important.
- Share your time.
- Stay positive.
- Begin the day with some special time.
- Set limits.
- Promote empathy.
Siblings with bad relationships are more than likely to grow into adults with bad relationships. The more they fight as children, the more likely they are going to fight as adults. So we need to nip it in the bud as early as possible.
Promoting sibling harmony requires a bit of work. Most toddlers are not so keen on sharing their toys, their room, or their parents with another. In our case, because they are so close in age we arrange a special time or one-on-one outings for each child.
Fox, our older toddler actually goes to ‘school’ two days a week now. He loves this and it makes him feel special to be going to school without his brother. He is always happy to see Jet when we arrive home and they always run and hug each other at pick up. Having this break from each other helps a lot. It also gives Jet more time with mommy, and he doesn’t have to fight anyone for toys. And Fox enjoys the structure of being out of the house for the day. I think we all love it as much as he does.
It is important to teach and nurture patterns of life-long friendship among our children. This can be done by helping them find ways to be sensitive to each other.
- Assign your children tasks that require cooperation and working together.
- Set up clear expectations and messages about how you expect your children to behave towards one another before arguments become a way of life.
- Know when to step in and when to let children be children. It is good to see if they can sort the minor issues out on their own before intervening.
Siblings with bad relationships are more likely to grow into adults with bad relationships. The more they are allowed to fight as children, the more likely they are going to fight as adults. And we don’t want that.