What are some advantages of having a sibling?
- about conflict resolution
- how to share
- to negotiate
- how to become more compassionate
- how to love
- how to be friends and what a friend is
- how to cooperate
- how to compromise
- how to reconcile
- how to take care of each other
- how to maintain a long-time relationship
As parents, what factors should we be aware of that may contribute to jealousy, competition or tension between siblings?
- The order in which the children are born (oldest, middle, youngest)
- The gender
- The age (e.g. gap between two children)
- Different temperaments (e.g. a sensitive child in the same family as one that is not so sensitive can cause issues)
- Parenting style (e.g. parents that compare children, that ignore the feelings of a child, parents that blame the same child for everything, etc.)
- Some children may feel disconnected to their parents, like their ‘love’ cup is empty because a parent seems to favor a sibling. This may create misbehavior and acting out.
Should you prevent sibling conflict, or is it a part of growing up and the development process in children?
What are your recommendations for encouraging siblings to get along?
- Connect with each child individually and if possible daily, be 100% present (no phones!)(e.g. reading a book, a game, a walk, a cuddle after bath, a meal, etc.)
- Recognize each child’s uniqueness and individuality (e.g. “You give great hugs” or “You can run so fast” or “You really enjoy ballet, don’t you?”)
- Avoid labels and judgmental comparisons (e.g. “He is the smart one” or “She is the artist in the family” or “The lazy one”)
- Don’t expect an older child to be perfect (e.g. “You are such a nice big brother, give your baby brother/sister a hug” or “I expect you as an older child to share your toys nicely”)
- Acknowledge how your children are feeling (“I can see you are disappointed that I haven’t spent time with you” or “You seem envious that your sister is going to a birthday party” or “I wonder if you find it hard having a new baby in our family now…”)
- Teach children to express their feelings without labelling or hurting others, teach them to ask for help (e.g. “When Sam destroys my construction, I feel frustrated because it took me a long time to make it, and I need your help dad”)
- Set specific getting-along rules (e.g. gentle hands, share some toys, respect each other’s possessions, giggle and laugh every day, etc.)
- Focus on the positive and describe what you see (e.g. “When you shared your toy with Sam, I could see that made him smile, well done!” or “You are giving her a hug so gently, that is kind” or “I can see that sharing was a little tricky but you did it!” or “You guys sorted this problem all by yourselves, give me five!”)
- Teach children how to deal with conflict fairly (do not take sides, become the mediator, listen to both parties, brainstorm ideas to resolve the issue, choose a mutually agreed solution, try it and set limits).
Ms. Marchand B.Ed. parent, City Kids preschool principal, teacher, parenting consultant and co-author of bestselling children’s book ‘Home from Home’, has over 28 years of international experience teaching in Canada, Switzerland and Hong Kong. She runs private sessions, workshops and seven-week courses with parents, schools and different organizations on all matters related to successful parenting and teaching.
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