Happy families

1 October 2016

Happy families

  • Siblings
by Michael Grose

If you have a small family then sibling rivalry will be a problem for you. In a family of two children, it can be hard to escape your brother or sister so the rivalry can be intense.

After the birth of the second child you may think you are bringing a playmate home for the first born but in his or her eyes you have brought someone into your home who is a rival for your affection and attention.

This is not how you see the situation, but then it’s your child’s private logic that matters. It seems that rivalry is most intense between children adjacent to each other in the family tree.

Kids don’t grow out of their rivalry. It often gets worse as they get older unless parents put strategies in place to minimise it.

Competitive Kids

Parents need to contain the competitiveness within their kids. There is a time and a place for competition just as there is a time and place for cooperation. In many ways, it is the true test of family leadership where parents develop a sense of ‘we’ within their family while welcoming some of the competitive elements in their kids.

Here are some ways to reduce sibling rivalry in your family:

  • Accept children’s individual differences. Your acceptance of differences will determine the degree of competitiveness between children.
  • Focus on the deed not the dude. High praise families usually experience more sibling fighting than high encouragement families. So focus your positive comments on the process rather than the results, the act not the actor, the performer rather than the performance.
  • Put them in the same boat when they misbehave. Be willing for all children to experience the consequences of a child’s misbehaviour. For instance, if one child is noisy in the car then they all miss an activity if you return home.
  • Focus on solutions not the fight. When children fight and argue give ideas and strategies to resolve their problem rather than sorting out the fight.
  • Introduce family meetings at age five. Through regular meetings teach children a conflict resolution process. You can also give children an opportunity to impact on family decision-making through meetings.
Share This

Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.