Q- Sibling rivalry at our house is intense. Both my husband and I come from big families, and while we only have two kids, it seems they spend just as much energy competing with each other as we used to spend on the whole crowd. How can we put an end to this constant contest?
Putting an end to sibling rivalry takes patience and understanding. As parents we must understand that siblings will have arguments and conflicts, but the good news is there are ways for you to diffuse the conflict without making it worse. Many issues that siblings have are best left to them to work out whether we agree or disagree with the outcome we must trust they are learning how to resolve their own issues and leave them to it. However, sometimes sibling conflicts can escalate to an uncomfortable level, and we need to step in and see if we can’t guide the resolution.
When your children seem to be having one of those conflicts where someone is going to get seriously hurt emotionally or physically then it’s time to intervene. Ask each child to tell their side of the story. Each child must be given the same opportunity to share a version of what has transpired and to be heard. Do not let one child interrupt the other. Validate each of your children and their personal experience. Refrain from judgment, simply listen and validate the feelings of each child. The next step is to ask each child what it would like to have happen next in order to resolve this conflict. Then help them come to some sort of agreement or plan that they are both willing to live with. The key is to stay outside of the conflict by being the objective mediator. Do not take sides or tell them how they are going to resolve their dispute. The goal is give your children the tools and skills they need to resolve their own conflicts in a reasonably peaceful manner anytime they have them.