Do you have a child who loves to sit and read quietly and another one who likes nothing better than loud music, games and constant activities?
Being a Mum of two such kids who have very different interests and temperaments, everyday I feel like a referee, trying to solve their fights be it over a small piece of paper or a piece of cake or the front seat in the car.
But over the years, I have come to realize that conflicts are inevitable. You can’t stop sibling rivalry entirely but you can reduce its frequency for more peace in your home. And these situations need to be looked at, as opportunities to encourage a healthy bond between them.
Although this is easier said than done, and feels like an uphill task sometimes. But fostering a healthy sibling bond is worth the effort, as this relationship goes a long way in making kids learn from each other and with this half of a mother’s job is done.
So I’ll share with you the 4 ways of dealing with Sibling Rivalry-
1. STAY CALM AND IN CONTROL
A few years back I used to get really mad when both my kids started fighting and came to me complaining about each other. My impulsive reaction worsened the situation even more. With time, I realized that in such situations I need to keep my cool as that energy got transferred to them as well. So the first thing, take a few deep breaths before you deal with the situation.
2. LISTEN AND RESPECT THE FEELINGS
Let each child speak out her side of the story. Listen to them without judging them. Sometimes while speaking out their problems and differences, they themselves come up with a solution. Isn’t that how even we, grown-ups find solutions to our problems? They cooperate more when they know they are being heard.
So, listening to the problem and rather than focusing on the aggression, it is better to understand the feeling behind that behaviour. Once the anger episode subsides the kids must be taught some Problem solving tools.
Put yourself in the Sibling’s Shoe Activity
Encourage kids to come up with some solutions that will be fair for each of them by putting themselves in the sibling’s shoes before giving suggestions. This activity is very important to teach them Empathy.
Importance of working as a team
Tell your children that your family is like a team and the team needs to work together to help create a peaceful atmosphere at home. They will learn selflessness and cooperation. For example, we don’t watch the Sunday movie if we don’t tidy up the house. So if one child finds it hard to tidy up his corner the other one chips in to help and in no time everyone is ready for the movie time. And when they start to have fun together they realize the importance of a team and develop closeness.
Make respect a non-negotiable rule
Explain to your children that hitting each other while having a conflict is absolutely unacceptable. Also encourage them to listen to others opinions and perspectives and respect them too. Parents are role models for their children, so we must show them a good respectful problem solving behaviour to settle conflicts. Children must know that their parents might also have a difference of opinion in certain situations but the way they deal with it is with respect for each other.
3. GIVE QUALITY TIME TO EACH CHILD
One of the reasons for sibling fights is getting attention from the parent, so plan to spend 10-15 minutes of quality time with each child. Make sure that your child is the centre of your universe for these 15 minutes, which means put your phone down, no TV, no gadget to distract you. This time spent with each child will strengthen your bond with them and result in lesser sibling fights.
4. INVEST IN FUN FAMILY TIME
Playing board games, spending time at the park, doing activities together like going on a trek, hiking, give children the opportunities to share positive memories for a lifetime. Having fun together, they are less likely to pick fights and hence build a stronger relationship.
Don’t expect your children to be conflict free because they are different, and they will disagree and compete with one another. Just Remember that Conflict provides you training and teaching opportunities.
Hope this helps you go smooth in your parenting journey.