To an only child, siblings often seem like built-in friends…. Someone always there for entertainment and support….Someone to lean on, a comrade of sorts, a partner to create a history with. But those with siblings know the truth. More often than not, siblings clash over a variety of issues; which often stem from vying for parental attention or the need to establish unique personal dynamics. As a family therapist in Westlake Village, I often attempt to reduce sibling rivalries by encouraging their parents to implement the following steps meant to create better, long-lasting family harmony:
- Don’t ever compare them to each other. Asking your child “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” is fodder for breeding resentment toward each other. Always remember that every individual possesses unique strengths, talents and weaknesses and given praise should be free of comparisons to their brothers and sisters.
- Let them handle their squabbles. Let’s face it – most childhood arguments add up to a hill of beans. If your children are not actually damaging each other (there are certain things that should never be said) or physically attacking each other – let them work out their own solutions to the problem.
- Focus your attention on each of them. Though it can seem like one-on-one time with each can be a monumental task (who has that kind of time?), it can actually diminish the jealousies that grow when one child feels neglected in any way. Make sure to devote your attention to each child, letting them feel secure in their place in the family.
- Call attention to the positive. When things are quiet and peaceful, its often easier to just let things be. But these times are the perfect opportunity for calling out your children for good behavior. Catching them while they are sharing or playing nicely together solidifies the concept that their behavior is noticed and appreciated.