Siblings Day 2022: Tips to manage sibling rivalry for family happiness balance

Updated on Apr 10, 2022 07:25 AM IST

While siblings go on to be the best companions, the phase of rivalry between them can never be easy to manage. Ahead of Siblings Day 2022, experts reveal secret tips to make this transition easier for family happiness balance

Siblings Day 2022: Tips to manage sibling rivalry for family happiness balance (Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)
Siblings Day 2022: Tips to manage sibling rivalry for family happiness balance (Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Our siblings are our only enemy we can't live without, who are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk and no matter how old we become, when we are with our siblings, we revert back to childhood. To mark this special bond, Siblings Day is celebrated around the globe annually on April 10 as a way of honouring the special bond that happens within families and are often the longest relationships of a person’s life, much longer than a relationship with parents, spouse or kids.

While siblings go on to be the best companions, the phase of rivalry between them can never be easy to manage. The fights between them are sometimes unstoppable and parents really worry that one may seriously injure the other.

This sibling rivalry could happen due to being born within a very small gap and create a power struggle between brothers and sisters and experts are of the opinion that at its core, it develops even before the second child is born as the older one feels that now they will have to share not only their belongings but also the attention of their parents. 

“Very often this is completely unintentional. They struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviours, particularly when they’re hungry or tired (or bored). It’s normal that they will argue over who has the bigger piece of cake, what TV show to watch, whether someone’s allowed in ‘their’ seat’, or who can and can’t play with a particular toy,” shared Dr Khushboo Thakker Garodia, Homeopath, Trichologist, Nutrition and Stress Management Expert, in an interview with HT Lifestyle.

According to Dr Aarti Bakshi, Developmental Psychologist and SEL Consultant at SAAR Education, door slamming and screaming may become a usual concern with siblings and their parents may be left feeling helpless. Weekends could be a disaster and while it may be common for siblings to fight, it is not pleasant and can create tension in the house. 

As a parent, she suggested that one must make some rules and stick to it. She listed the following tips:

1. Don’t get involved - Calm tones and not getting involved works. If you get involved in the children’s fight, it might look like you are favouring one child over the other. This will lead to more resentment. Step in only if there's a danger of any kind of physical harm or use of inappropriate language. This helps children realise that they can solve their own problems. No detective work on a parents part as who started the fight, who said what works.

2. Set boundaries about acceptable behaviour - Stop them from cursing, name-calling, yelling, door slamming or physical hitting. Consequences for both/all children should be there if they break the rules. Social stories, SEL books help to provide solutions to children concerns, along with self-awareness and emotional regulation.

3. It’s family time - Be demonstrative of love to make your children feel important. Spend weekly scheduled family evenings together playing, conversing and laughing. It would reduce sibling rivalry as sometimes children fight to get a parent's attention. In that case, do your own thing for a while.

4. Me zone - We are social animals but need safe zones and me time to recoup. Let your children have their own space and time to do their own thing. This will be their space and teach the other kid to respect that. They can play by themselves or with friends without a sibling tagging along in this space.

Adding to the list, Dr Vanshika Gupta Adukia, Pregnancy/Childbirth and Lactation Specialist, a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and the Founder of Therhappy suggested:

1. Stay out - As difficult as this can be, never pick between children as far as possible. Allow them to resolve concerns amongst themselves. This allows for them to eventually bond and grow together.

2. Avoid comparisons - Never pitch either up against the other. Avoid highlighting one child’s strengths as the other one’s weaknesses. Instead teach them to work together as a team.

3. Play fair - Don’t always play the older-younger card. The older one does not always have to understand or the younger one does not have to always follow the lead.

4. Give them time - Give them time to individually reflect on fights, arguments and physical scenes and cool off before initiating a patch up.

Dr Khushboo Thakker Garodia advised that parents can take the following measures to reduce or manage sibling rivalry:

1. Have clear rules - Children thrive when rules and routines are defined and followed. They do try to escape or bend the rules and that’s when it’s very important to reinstate these rules and boundaries so that they learn over time that some rules cannot be broken. Make it clear to your children that you will not tolerate any form of violence between them. Make sure to praise your children when they peacefully resolve their conflicts.

2. Plan activities together with them - Every day let your children know that at a certain time you will do something together and make sure to follow it up. Let them know what it will be - it can be doing a craft together or a hard together or playing together or simply just going down to the garden together. This way they know and see that you’re spending quality time with both of them and having fun together as a unit. This helps strengthen their bond together

3. Avoid comparisons - Never compare your child with another, especially in front of them or their siblings. Your child may interpret comparison as a form of criticism, leading him to believe he or she isn’t as good or loved as his/ her sibling.

4. Teach kids how to handle conflict in a positive manner - Children who are taught how to manage conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner learn how to settle fights and move on. It will help children grow into adults who are skilled at resolving differences and are better at managing relationships with others. Respect is a non-negotiable rule. This means no name-calling and absolutely no hitting or other physical aggression. Also, encourage your children to keenly listen to the other’s perspective and give them the respect they would like for them to receive

5. Explain to them why harmony is important for family happiness balance - Explain to your children that your family is like a team. And like for any team to succeed - everyone—mom, dad, and the kids—needs to work together to have a peaceful and loving home. Any fights among family members can hurt the whole team or the family.

6. Ask the children to suggest some solutions - Let your children come up with some suggestions or resolutions that will be fair for both sides. Encourage them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes before making suggestions. This helps them become fair

You incorporate these strategies. It's important to remember that children watch and learn from parents and take cues from them on how to settle conflict from how they handle problems at home, with they spouse, friends and family.

If parents are respectful and loving during a disagreement, their children will learn and adopt those conflict-resolution skills themselves. If sibling rivalry gets so bad that it disrupts daily functioning or terribly affects children emotionally, seek professional support.

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