Sibling rivalry is as old as Cain and Abel, as legendary as Cinderella and her stepsisters and can be as deadly as the daughters of King Lear. Parents should know the battles are likely and must prepare their kids to defuse potentially ugly situations.
Teach mutual respect. Do not allow your children to insult each other. Words are extremely powerful, and snide comments can damage deeply. Experts say every negative comment needs at least five positive remarks to even out. Teach your children to respect and appreciate each other.
Do not play favorites. In Genesis, we see the damage done by Jacob's favoritism of Joseph. Remember that all children are created equal, but not all children are the same. Recognize and praise each child's individual skills, strengths and accomplishments without implying that one child is somehow better.
Teach conflict-management. Do not deny your child's feelings, but help him learn to express emotions in an appropriate way. If you see your child acting jealously, encourage him identify the emotion by saying, "I understand that you feel bad because . . ." or "I know you hurt because . . ." Helping your children figure out the causes of their actions will help them learn how to deal with problems in the future.
Do not ignore good behavior. To attention-starved kids, negative attention is simply attention. Notice your children playing nicely together and reward them with praise. Be sure each child receives adequate parental interest and quality time.
Show appreciation for who your child is, not what he does. When a child feels valuable merely for his performance, he will feel the need to prove his worth. Instead, praise your child for his God-given traits such as compassion or a tender heart. By fostering their self-esteem, children can learn to respect themselves and others.
Most parents realize children imitate what they see, so examine the example you set. Do you compete with your siblings? By checking your actions, you can be better prepared to show your children how to emerge the best of friends following the inevitability of a little sibling rivalry.
Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.
When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.
When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.
Questions and Answers
After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?
We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?
How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?
I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?
It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?
Review Frequently Asked Questions
StoriesIf you've been through a experience related to this topic, we invite you to share your story with others.
Share Your Story
Other Things to Consider
Ten Things Toddlers Wish They Could Tell You
It can do wonders for the frazzled parent to know what's going on in the mind of your little one.
Transitions: Having a Baby, Preparing for Adolescence
Life Pressures: Working Moms, Stay-At-Home Moms, Time for Family
Relationships: Parents and Adult Children, Blended Families