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Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is a common and natural phenomenon that occurs in families with more than one
child. It can be challenging for parents to manage, but there are effective strategies for dealing with
it. Sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up and parents should not be overly concerned about it.
However, it can be stressful and upsetting for parents, and it is important to take steps to manage it.
Parents need adopt a positive and proactive approach to dealing with sibling rivalry, rather than
reacting negatively or punishing their children.

One of the most important things that parents can do to manage sibling rivalry is to foster a sense of
connection and empathy between their children. Parents spend time with each child individually,
giving each of them the attention and validation they need. This can help children feel secure in their
relationship with their parents, and less likely to compete with their siblings for attention and
affection.

Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist and parenting expert, who has written extensively on the
subject of sibling rivalry, offers valuable insights into how to manage it in a healthy and constructive
way. She recommends that parents encourage their children to express their feelings in a
constructive way. Rather than suppressing or ignoring their emotions, children should be taught to
communicate them effectively. This can be done through active listening, empathizing with their
feelings, and helping them find constructive ways to express themselves. For example, if a child is
feeling jealous of their sibling, they might express this by saying, “I feel left out when you spend all
your time with my sister. Can we do something just the two of us?”

Another important strategy for managing sibling rivalry is to avoid comparisons between siblings.
When parents compare their children, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Instead,
parents should focus on each child’s unique strengths & accomplishments and celebrate them
individually. This can help children feel valued and appreciated for who they are, rather than
constantly competing with their siblings.

In addition to these strategies, parents should set clear expectations and boundaries for their
children’s behaviour. This can help prevent conflicts and reduce the likelihood of sibling rivalry. For
example, parents might establish rules around sharing toys or taking turns, and enforce them
consistently and fairly. When conflicts do arise, parents should remain calm and neutral, rather than
taking sides or getting involved in the argument.

Parents need to understand the importance of modelling positive behaviour for children. Parents
should strive to communicate effectively, manage their own emotions, and resolve conflicts in a
constructive way. When children see their parents modelling healthy and positive behaviours, they
are more likely to adopt them themselves.

In conclusion, sibling rivalry is a natural and common phenomenon that can be challenging for
parents to manage. However, with the right strategies and mindset, parents can help their children
develop positive and healthy relationships with each other. Parents can create a peaceful and
harmonious family environment where their children can thrive by fostering connection and
empathy between siblings, encourage constructive communication, avoid comparisons, set clear
expectations and boundaries, and model positive behaviour.

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