In some cases the siblings bad relationship continue even when they become adults. In worse cases sibling rivalry has led to adult siblings completely and permanently cutting off ties from each other.Wale Ojo (not real names) narrated how he often fought and detested his intellectually gifted elder brother because of the attention his parents were giving him. He said when he was in primary and secondary school , he often dreaded the end of term, when they bring reports home, because then his brother received a lot of praises and gifts while he received nothing. He said that he constantly made efforts to get the attention of his parents and when that failed he often felt depressed and resented his brother, adding that it took him time to overcome the rivalry, love his brother and overlook his parents’ favoritism.According to Jennifer Shroff Pendley, an assistant professor of pediatrics and co-director, division of behavioral health Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, in her review on KidsHealth, often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. “It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your kids fight with one another. A household that’s full of conflict is stressful for everyone. Yet often it’s hard to know how to stop the fighting, and or even whether you should get involved at all. But you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help your kids get along,” she said Characteristics of sibling rivalry are anger (which can results in fights, arguments and silent treatment), possessiveness, jealousy and competition among others.Some reasons for sibling rivalry include; the evolving needs of children, individual temperaments, sometimes a child’s special needs due to illness or learning/emotional issues may require more parental time ,and the way that parents resolve problems and disagreements sets a strong example for kids .Jane Mersky Leder a psychologist said there is a consensus among clinicians and developmental psychologists that the sibling bond is complicated, fluid, and influenced by many factors which are parental treatment, genetics, gender, life events, ethnic and generational patterns, and people and experiences outside the family all contribute to the success or failure of a particular sibling connection.Kathryn Hatter, advised parents to reduce sibling rivalry in the following ways;
Avoid over-involvement Involving yourself in your kids’ conflicts sets the stage for choosing favorites and assigning blame, which could make matters worse between your kids. By giving kids time to settle an argument, you help them develop conflict resolution skills. Save your involvement for times when someone’s physical harm is at risk.
Encourage positive interactionBuild a team of siblings instead of every child operating selfishly. By operating to resolve problems and approach situations as team players, they will often be more likely to keep interaction positive and proactive. Speaking calmly and respectfully to each other is also an important part of positive interaction.
Resist comparingComparing siblings to each other rarely results in a positive outcome. In fact, comparing one child to another invariably creates feelings of resentment and pressure in children, warns author Michele Borba. The child you compare negatively often feels slighted and unloved, in turn resenting the sibling. The child you compare positively may feel stressful pressure to keep up the performance due to the comparisons.Recognize individualityBecause each child has innate strengths and individual talents, apart and different from siblings, it is important to recognize and praise this individuality, advises Box Hill Pediatrics. Try to connect with each child individually to create a separate relationship. Spend quality time with each child to help children feel loved and valued. The amount of parental attention often has an important bearing on children feeling secure and loved.Experts at the Child Development Institute, a parenting organization say that the most important factor in sibling rivalry is parental attitude. It gave the following additional tips on dampening down sibling rivalry within a family:Don’t dismiss or suppress your children’s resentment or angry feelings. Contrary to what many people think, anger is not something we should try to avoid at all costs. This is the time to sit down, acknowledge the anger and talk it through.Try to avoid situations that promote guilt in siblings. When possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences. They advise that when one sibling is gifted parents should talk openly with their children about the reality that different people, including gifted children, have abilities and talents in different areas so they can begin to develop appropriate expectations for themselves. They advise against common mistakes parents make in managing sibling rivalry which includes taking sides such as attempting to punish the child who is at fault, usually the one seen pounding on the other child. (How long has this child put up with the taunting of the other child before taking drastic measures?)
Ignoring appropriate behavior. Parents often ignore their children when they are playing nicely. They only pay attention when a problem arises.Kyla Boyse, a registered nurse also gave the following tips on helping kids get along better; She said: “Don’t play favorites. Try not to compare your children to one another. For example, don’t say things like, “Your brother gets good grades in math—why can’t you?” Enjoy each of your children’s individual talents and successes. Set your kids up to cooperate rather than compete. “Teach your kids positive ways to get attention from each other. Being fair is very important, but it is not the same as being equal. Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but if children understand that this inequality is because one child is older or has more responsibilities, they will see this as fair.”She advised parents to be there be there for each child, listen—really listen—to how your children feel about what’s going on in the family and celebrate your children’s differences and let each child know they are special in their own way.Boyse gave the following advise on resolving conflicts and when to intervene; Research shows that you should pay attention to your kids’ conflicts (so that no one gets hurt, and you can notice abuse if it occurs). Try to see if your children can work out their own conflicts, but remember that younger children will probably need you to intervene and help structure the problem-solving. Try not to take sides and favor one child over the other. Get them settled and calm first, then ask questions about what happened before dispensing discipline.
Don’t yell or lecture. It won’t help.When to intervene:Dangerous fights need to be stopped immediately. Separate the children. When they have calmed down, talk about what happened and make it very clear that no violence is ever allowed. If your children are physically violent with each other on a regular basis, and/or one child is always the victim, is frightened of the brother/sister, and doesn’t fight back, you are dealing with sibling abuse. You should seek immediate professional help and guidance. Involve your children in setting ground rules. Ground rules, with clear and consistent consequences for breaking them, can help prevent many squabbles.
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