Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

This is a subject I have always wondered about myself so I am going to write a bit today about sibling rivalry. I am a mother of three; girl age 6, boy age 2 and boy age 4 months. My 6 year old seems to think it's fun to get her brother going, for some reason they can not stop from hurting each other. From pulling hair to pushing each other all over the place it's just another day in my home!

Although I firmly believe all siblings do love each other deep down there is a constant conflict for the attention of the parents that may cause the rivalry to spring up. Siblings don't choose their family, they don't get to choose in which order they are born into their family and they don't get to pick whether they have brothers or sisters. When put into a situation that is out of your control, as an adult you may feel like a rat in a cage and want to fight your way out of the situation. This is similar to siblings.

I find that my oldest child is looked at as the responsible child; you know what I am talking about if you are the older child, "you know better" or "you are older and should set a good example for your siblings", two sayings I mutter daily without even thinking. This puts tremendous pressure on a child; to think you are basically telling them they are to be the better behaved child just because of their position in the family. Can you imagine how hard that may be for a child?

The younger child often gets away with more, whether it be because you are more relaxed with your second or even third born or just because he or she is your "baby" and can do no wrong.{yes I am sure you may unknowingly feel this way about your last born}

When the children realize the role they play in the family it can cause tension which turns into sibling rivalry. Rivalry is basically a way for children to let out their steam. I can't really say that rivalry only occurs in children because my sister and I still occasionally have our sibling spats and we are 27 and 23 years of age!

I personally feel the best way to handle sibling rivalry is to give them space to resolve their differences, as long as they are being somewhat safe and not completely hurting each other, they will figure the problem out on their own. Children do need to learn how to handle their emotions. In my home you will often find me saying, "use your words". Whether my children are sad, angry or upset about something I tell them it's ok to feel that way but you need to use your words. I also allow them space to be alone if they are extremely upset. If my children are upset with each other I allow them some time to work it out on their own for a bit, if that fails I put myself in the middle as mediator to talk out the problem.

When dealing with young children it's so hard to understand why they have rivalry it's almost like it's something we are all born with. I can tell you that sibling rivalry is very frustrating, it's not fun to see your children "duking it out" but if you allow them the time to "duke it out" then maybe they will soon get over their differences and embrace their similar interests.