“Oh ya! Well at least I know how to be nice to people. You only know how to be mean!”
Let’s start by getting the right perspective about sibling rivalry. Here’s an unspoken truth- it is virtually characteristic of all children and it is in all families. The only way to get rid of sibling rivalry is to get rid of the siblings!
Why? Because it’s such an important part of life. It allows our children to learn about reality, the push and pull of relationships and where people’s limits are. In my parenting classes, I shock everyone by saying that I am an advocate for sibling rivalry! And the reason is because they are learning so much while they argue.
What does a child learn while she is arguing with her sibling?
1. How to make correct social behavior decisions. How far can she push an agenda before it’s no longer socially comfortable.
2. How to bond with a sibling! Arguing is a very important part of the bonding process. I love my sisters and we fought quite a bit growing up. Don’t let your poor memory allow you to think you have a clear conscience.
3. How to resolve conflict. Sibling rivalry gives a child lots and lots of practice with how to resolve a disagreement. Should she compromise, walk away, redirect attention, ignore the instigator? And which solution works best in which situation? All of this can be learned while arguing over barbie dolls.
4. How to endure when life gets hard. She learns to dig her heels in and power through. To grin and bear it or dig deep and push back.
5. How to forgive and move on. Letting things go and not having to always be right is such an important skill to learn. Allow your child to learn how to forgive by letting an argument take it’s course and have closure.
Here’s another crazy truth. The number one reinforcer for behavior in a child is parental attention. If you hear arguing and rush to stop it with lots of direction from you, you are actually REINFORCING SIBLING RIVALRY. It’s a conditioned behavior.
So don’t be a thief to your children. Don’t steal their opportunities to learn many important skills and to bond with their sibling. As long as there isn’t potential for bodily harm, walk away. Don’t give that behavior even a second of your time. Think to yourself, “They feel safe and they are learning.”
Hi, I'm Jen! I adore chocolate, I'd rather read than clean my house, and I haven't seen my abs in I-don't-know-how-long. But I love my husband and kids to death and try to Raise The Good within myself and my family by making wise and uplifting media choices and having a deliberate family culture. You are probably doing the same thing. Let's share what works with each other!
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