What Are the Best Ways to Manage Sibling Rivalry?
Learn how to keep the peace and reduce sibling rivalry conflicts so that your children get along.
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3. Punish in private. If you have to punish or scold your child, don’t do so in front of her sibling. That may lead to teasing. Instead, do it in a private and quiet place.
4. Spend time with each child. Give each child 1-on-1 time. That way you aren’t unknowingly promoting competition. “Try to carve out a specific block of time where the child knows that he has your undivided attention,” Dr. Kulich says. “Put your phone down and be engaged.” It’s also a good way to give your children their own space and time apart from one another.
Even 5 minutes with your child can be beneficial, Dr. Berger says. It doesn’t have to be an activity either. At bedtime, she says, you can ask your child, “What was important to you about today?” to get the ball rolling toward a meaningful conversation.
5. Let the older one help with the younger one. Strengthen kids’ relationships with each other by encouraging your child to be a proud older sibling. Let your older one help change a diaper or choose her sibling’s outfit for the day.
6. Practice what you preach. Model good behavior, and you’ll hopefully get that in return. “The development of a child’s character is always based on the parents own character,” Dr. Berger says. “That’s why children who are treated with respect, honesty, trust, and kindness grow up to be respectful, honest, trustworthy, and kind.” Kids look to their parents for positive behaviors, such as how their parents resolve an argument. “Children more often copy their parents’ behavior than listen to their parents’ words,” Dr. Kulich says. “‘Do as I say not as I do’ is not a very effective parenting strategy.”
7. Praise positive individual behavior. Heap on the praise, but do so properly. “Praising children for getting along is likely to remind them of all the reasons they don’t want to get along,” Dr. Berger warns. “It could burst the bubble.” Instead, praising a child for being a good older brother or sister may help the child feel pride in his role, she says.