“What strange creatures brothers are!”Jane Austen
Oli & Milo Faust are wild y’all. They go from loving normal humans to professional wrestlers in the matter of seconds. I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting for them to get along and play together for years now. But I’m normally just a referee. I literally sit on the floor while they are playing legos some days and hold them apart. Do Legos bring out the worst in brothers? Other days I’m tired, I let them fight it out. Some days it’s good, other days we all end up crying.
This has actually been my second most requested topic to blog on, (first is the boys hair). People think that because I post them smiling together often on Instagram that they get along. It’s actually the opposite, I have to go through 100 photos to find one where they aren’t fighting. So I’m going to need you to slide into my DMs and give me all the tips! Seriously, I’d love to hear from other parents practicing peaceful parenting and what works with siblings?
Sibling rivalry — jealousy and competition between siblings for their parents’ love, affection, and attention — can create conflict in any home. It starts really young too. What’s a parent to do?
I’ve been researching this topic for a while, and these are the main points I’ve gathered. Parents CAN take practical steps to help reduce sibling rivalry in the home and to foster healthy relationships between children.
Realize Each Child is Different.
Parents must take into consideration each child’s unique personality, temperament, and strengths when communicating and establishing family rules and guidelines.
Because no two children are alike, what works for one child may fail miserably with another. For example, one child may be an extrovert, while another is an introvert. One child may excel at little league, while another prefers art or music lessons. Learn to celebrate the differences in each child and create opportunities for each of them to succeed.
Nothing breeds rivalry between siblings more than comparing one child to another. Avoid saying things like, “Why can’t you be good like your brother?” “Study harder so you’ll get better grades like your sister?” “Your sister was always good at ballet. You could be too if you tried harder.”
To better understand each child’s unique needs and personality, why not set aside regular, one-on-one time with each child? Some parents make a habit of taking each child out to lunch or breakfast at an inexpensive restaurant once a week or a few times a month. This allows time for intimate conversation and makes each child feel special and appreciated.
Model Healthy Behavior.
If you and your spouse resolve conflict through yelling, screaming, or shouting obscenities, don’t be surprised if your children do the same. For good or for bad, you are setting an example for your children. Make sure it’s a good one.
It’s also important to model healthy communication for your children. Your children are looking to you for life lessons. Teach your children empathy, compromise, and concern for others by modeling it in your home.
Teach Conflict Resolution Skills.
When it comes to conflict resolution skills, the time to teach children is before a disagreement breaks out, not in the midst of an argument. Pick a time when your children are calm and receptive to talk about communication, compromise, and conflict resolution. And don’t forget to teach your children when it might be appropriate to overlook an offense as well.
Parents play a key role in helping their children get along. Recognize that in most families, children outgrow sibling rivalry and when given the proper tools; they develop healthy relationships with their siblings that hopefully carry over into adulthood.
By applying these practical tips, you’ll not only help your children overcome sibling rivalry, you just might help them become lifelong friends. Matthew and his brothers are lifelong best friends, I’m holding my breath for Oli and Milo.
Related: Sibling 101 from Aha! Parenting