You may not believe this but I can not ever remember fighting with my siblings. We did get upset from time to time but I don’t ever remember having a knock down drag out with either of my sisters. Over the years I have heard many parents bring up the topic of how to handle sibling rivalry. It wasn’t until my boys are now older that I understand the importance of using some of the principles my parents did to keep the peace in their home.
1. Value the right things – I think the biggest cause of sibling rivalry is parents trying to be fair to their kids. For example while I lived at home I always sat in the front seat if it was available because I was the oldest. I believe you need to give more privileges to the older kids because you expect more from them. Most parent handle “shotgun” in a you can next time approach and rotate the family through. This leads to resentment by the older kids because they feel undervalued.
2. Teach the older kids to be kind and care for their siblings. – Older kids put up with a lot, we need to give them their space and still teach them to be kind to other kids younger than them and not get frustrated by younger siblings doing things that are less developed physically and emotionally.
3. Teach younger kids to respect the older ones. – This is huge if you get your younger kids to respect the older kids it will be much easier for you to teach the older kids to show kindness.
4. Kids need time together and time a part. – Time together for social interaction and time apart to learn that being alone is not a bad thing. It’s also good for kids to miss each other.
5. Kids need to learn empathy. – The more you can help kids understand the other side of an argument they are better off. When your kids are fighting don’t take sides try your best to show them the other side. Kids today by and large do not learn what it is to be empathetic like they need to be. This effects them in their future relationships in life.
6. Celebrate what each child does good – Teach your kids to compliment each other. Competition is normal make sure you keep the competition healthy buy celebrating each child’s uniqueness.
Parents do fall into the “He’s younger than you, you should know better” trap it will only foster resentment and bitterness that may take years to overcome.
This is what we try to do. I hope it helps.