Tuesday’s blog focused on new research findings – that those who experience psychological aggression, whether from siblings or peers, have increased levels of depression, anger and anxiety.
Today, let’s look at how your family can prevent sibling conflicts from accelerating. As parents, we have to ask the hard questions about our kids – is there an imbalance of power, is one usually the victim, are the aggressive behaviors persistent, is there ever an intention to harm? We also need to see the part that we play – do we have favorites, encourage competition, label, or compare one to the other? If you’re concerned about ongoing sibling problems, here are practical tips that may help:
Teach them to get along. Help your kids solve problems together by giving them the tools to communicate better and resolve issues. They may begin to see themselves as part of a team rather than competitors.
Don’t referee fights. Try not to be in the middle or the judge of who’s right. Set limits and consequences for negative behavior. If they’re able to come up with their own solutions, they’re more likely to use them in the future.
Hold them both responsible. One may start by teasing, which can lead to a struggle if it gets a reaction. Set up a rule that if fighting occurs, everybody is accountable and will have to suffer the consequences.
Defuse conflicts. If one child is envious or competitive, normalize the feelings – let them know that we’re all jealous at times. Point out positive qualities and give concrete examples. Let them know that you value their efforts.
Be a positive role model by creating an environment where each family member has a voice and respects the opinion of others. Encourage active listening and constructive behavior. Minimize the factors that make it harder for kids, especially any behavior that resembles bullying. There are so many pressures today, let’s at least make home a safe haven.