Every relationship has conflict – it’s normal and inevitable to disagree. Conflict happens between spouses, relatives, friends, neighbours, co-workers and everyone else. Why would the sibling relationship be different? Fact is, even the best sibling relationships can have their moments of discord and friction.
But with a little insight and patience, a much more peaceful home and sibling harmony can be achieved. When a good sibling bond is established early, and children are taught how to manage conflict with their brother or sister, fighting and rivalry can be greatly minimized. Once children learn how to work through their differences, this very important family bond can flourish and grow strong. Here are five simple but effective strategies, which when added to your parenting tool kit, can be of help in creating a more peaceful environment in your family.
Allow your older child to help care for the younger one. Encourage your child to feel proud to be a big brother or big sister. Give the older child some supervised responsibility for the younger one. This will motivate the older brother or sister to care, and the younger sibling will sense this. Even a toddler can gently hold and pat the tiny baby under supervision.
Be Impartial. Taking sides and solving their fights for them is not going to teach your children how to sort out future arguments. Encourage your children to really listen to the other’s side of things and show the respect they would like for themselves.
Ask the children to suggest some solutions. Have your children come up with some scenarios or resolutions that will be fair for both sides. Encourage them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes before making suggestions.
Model good problem-solving behavior. Conflict resolution is a key problem solving skill. A parent can help the kids develop good problem solving skills by helping them work through problems by communicating, coaching them through the process. Children watch and learn from parents – they learn how to settle conflict from how we handle problems with our spouse, friends, and family. If we are respectful and loving, and clear about our feelings and thoughts during a disagreement, our children will learn and adopt those conflict resolution skills themselves.
Give each child a turn with your undivided attention. All children need one-on-one attention now and then, and a child who’s suddenly begun to express some sibling rivalry may be trying to tell you that he needs more of your time and attention. Listening, paying attention, appreciating and growing the good in each individual child are the keys. Every human wants and needs to be understood for who they really are. Kids are no different. When children believe they are understood, appreciated and needed in the family, they are less likely to argue and fight.