If you have more than one child, it’s inevitable that there will be moments of sibling rivalry. So why does it happen and how do you cope with it?
Why does sibling rivalry happen?
Take a moment to think about the situation from the perspective of your children. Your older child was once the sole focus of your attention. All needs were met, all requests were answered with haste and they didn’t have to share their time or toys with anyone. Then, another child came along and for all intents and purposes the baby was a stranger to them. Now you’re slower to deal with their requests because you’re looking after the baby, and you need to do a whole host of other things before you can sit down and play with them. Young children aren’t able to express their feelings verbally like we can as adults. So they show their frustrations in other ways, by misbehaving, shouting and refusing to share.
Coping with sibling rivalry
One of the reasons children fight is to gain the attention of their parents. In their eyes, negative attention is better than nothing. Try giving each child some time every day, to focus your attention just on them. And let them call the shots. They want a tea party? Do it. If they want to dress up in costumes, get involved. Whatever your child chooses to do, go with it for a while.
Help your children to get along
Sometimes life isn’t fair and time spent with your children can’t always be equal. So teach them this. Sometimes one of your children may need you more than the other one does. Be proactive in giving children one-on-one attention directed to their interests and needs. For example, if one likes to go outdoors, take a walk or go to the park. If another child likes to sit and read, make time for that too. Make sure your children have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50.
You can also watch our useful Parenting Hack on teaching children to share: