Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sibling Rivalry

By: Jennifer Ripepi, MD

Have more than one child in your home? Then you probably have or will have to deal with sibling rivalry: sharing, divided attention, and some battles between them. It happens. So how can you deal with it?

One thing to remember is that any attention a child gets from you is attention whether you are happy or not. How do you keep your wits when the battles wage around you? Be ready to accept that the conflict will happen. That is key. Children are not doing this with the intent of making you crazy. The intent is to get what each child wants whether it's toys or mommy's lap or the last strawberry. Limited resources leads to competition. Everything cannot be shared fairly all the time.


Waiting for a turn when a child sees someone else having fun is really hard. So give your child tips for how to make waiting fun with little rhymes, counting games, singing songs and such. Use your imagination or let them use theirs.  Set timers so that the time is the same for each if turn-taking is the goal. Short spurts are better than longer intervals.

What if there is only one toy between two battling children? I used to give the toy a time out. We sometimes had more toys in time out than usable. We had to find ways to use our imaginations and cooperate with activities instead. We would try more active play, pretend games with everyone involved, or story time. Sometimes the battle was heated enough that two children and the toy went to a brief time out. That would usually give me time to come up with a plan like a snack, a nap, or play ideas. Believe me, I felt like I needed to be a magician to pull ideas out of thin air sometimes.

Ever walk into a room because you heard a scream and a cry? A conflict has happened and now you have to sort it out! What do you do? That's a tough one. If both children can talk or there is a bystander who can give some input then that may help. If not, it's easier to blame the older child because "they should know better." But that may not be accurate. There is no way I can give advice that covers all of those situations. I think the best general way to handle that is to use a statement like, "It looks like you two (or more) need a break from each other. I don't know for sure what happened here but everyone will need to separate for (whatever time is age appropriate). Then we'll try to do something we all like together." You are giving time outs for a really good reason!


Please also try to praise your children when they are playing well together. There is nothing a child loves better than to hear that he or she is a good kid! There has to be "time in" for "time out" to work. Be patient with yourself and your children and find the positives. Take your "time outs" when you need them, too. It's a good example for your children.

How do you handle sibling rivalry in your home? If you don’t have more than one child, do you have cousin rivalry? Friend rivalry?


About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

29 comments :

  1. My boys get along really well, but I think it's because I only have 2 and they are both boys. I fought terribly with my brother and sister and it's harder when more kids are involved.

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    1. Do you still fight with your brother and sister? Sometimes it is an age thing too.

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  2. Great advice dealing with sibling rivalry! I always make it a point to try and be all inclusive in repercussions if there's not sure way to tell what happened. For example, like you talk about, giving the toy a time out (or taking it from both of them because they couldn't resolve their issues).

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    1. That is great to hear that you do this too!

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  3. I remember as a kid how often I phot with my brothers. I have one child now but I watch a little girl all the time and they act like brother and sister. Some great advice even for those that I have siblings that are not actually related LOL.

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    1. All children will "fight" over something eventually. Even the quietest of children will be upset if a toy gets taken from them.

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  4. I have a boy and a girl (all grown adults now), but when they were little they actually really got along well :) Great post!!

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  5. Great advice. Give the toy time out. I would love to see the look on a child face when that happens a first time. Most of the time - time out is not negotiable, so the surprise on the two kids faces would be priceless.

    Are you sure kids aren't put on earth to drive parents around the bend and frazzle their minds. Great post. I have found honest praise really works and kids listen.

    Rachel

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    1. I think children were put on Earth to challenge parents :) It is something new every day. And yes, positivity and praise work wonders.

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  6. This is great advice! I have one son and he plays really well with his cousin that comes over. I have never had a problem with them.

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    1. That is awesome. Sounds like you have some good kids in the family.

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  7. Great advice.When me and my sister were kid,we never had any problem,we were quite friends :)

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  8. We haven't had a huge issue with sibling rivalry because our kids are spaced about 4 years apart. Luckily the older children have been able to be mature enough in most situations!

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  9. I don't remember having much sibling rivalry when I was kid. Granted I like my alone time. The only time there would be an issue was when we were allowed to have friends over. My sister always got made when it was my turn.

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  10. We have a lot of sibling rivalry in our house. Between the twins, there is constant battling over toys and attention. Then, between the twin and our oldest, who is 6, we also have battles. Great advice!

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  11. My sister and I fought all the time, growing up, but we were only 11 months apart. We were raised like twins, so when we got a little older, we were really close.

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  12. HAHA, I did the time out for the toys too! The use of timers works wonders as well

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  13. My kids played well together most of the time but there were definitely some tough moments. This is really good advice!

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  14. My kids are little and they don't exactly get along at the moment lol. This is a great post.

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  15. Hehehe my brother and I use to have daily battles! We were total polar opposites. Even as adults we rarely agree on things lol

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  16. Having twins, that makes things in the rivalry area complicated. I used to freak out at first too. Until I came up with my own rules whenever I see them fighting. It's really important to praise them when they're sharing and playing with each other.

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  17. Such a great advice, I'm so lucky that my two kids, a boy and girl, was not arguing or fighting. supposedly they treating as good and equal always.!

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  18. My son and daughter sometimes do fight over something. This will surely come in handy. Thanks!

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  19. Good advice! I'm so glad that I have one kid and it's definitely fun.

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  20. My boys fight all. the. time. It drives me crazy. I do praise them when they are getting along, but I don't know hot to deal with the constant arguing.

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  21. i only have a daughter so this doesnt happen to me haha. although when my younger sister is here too much noise and grumpyness around the house haha

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  22. Little rhymes or songs is a good way to help them wait patiently. This would be great in the classroom too. ;)

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  23. Sibling rivalry growing up was like an everyday event in our household. I'm glad I only have one daughter. I don't have to deal with kids fighting over nonsense...lol! Fantastic advice!

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