Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

The two best ways to reduce sibling rivalry is through a positive marital relationship and non favoritism parenting. Research has found that siblings are more likely to get along if their parents get along. In addition, siblings are more likely to get along if parents do not show favoritism or engage in costly comparisons. But how do you handle the negative feelings that arise in siblings and how can you be fair to all your children? Here are some key points to help you handle negative feelings.

  • Instead of dismissing negative feelings about a sibling, acknowledge those feelings.
  • Give children in fantasy what they don't have in reality e.g. "You wish your brother would ask before he uses your things."
  • Help children channel their hostile feeling into symbolic or creative outlets.
  • Stop hurtful behavior and show how angry feeling can be discharged safely. Refrain from attacking the attacker.
In addition, it is important for parents to avoid any kind of comparison between children. Rather than making comments about the child specifically describe what you see, feel or what needs to be done. For example when your son puts his shoes in the closet instead of saying, "You are such a good son" say something like, "I see you put your shoes in the closet, I appreciate that."

As parents we must also be careful about giving our children equal treatment. Instead of giving equal treatment we need to give according to the needs of each individual child. This can often be a difficult task but by so doing we help our children understand that each child has unique value. Here are a few cartoons that portrays how we can give according to the needs of each of our children.

We would also love to hear your stories and suggestions for handling your own children. Feel free to comment below.


Comics come from material presented by Dr. David Nelson at BYU in the School of Family Life, Parenting and Child Guidance class

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