Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sibling rivalry: what to do as parents?

Brothers and sisters fight from time to time; and which is the role that we as a parents need to take? Few months ago we had a session with the counsellor at the International School of Kigali; and she gave us quite some tips. Since I found them quite useful; I am summarising some of them below - I hope they are useful for you too!

  • Don´t be the referee. Have a consequence for all of the children if there are arguments and have a reward for all of the children if they can get along for a certain amount of time.
  • However, have consequences for significant acts that hurt another so that it is clear where the boundaries are.
  • Encourage children to come up with a compromise/solution to what they are arguing about.
  • Ensure restitution, e.g. if something is broken on purpose how can the one at fault replace it?
  • Describe the behaviour you want to see, e.g. "we speak to each other nicely" rather than "we don´t call each other names".
  • Praise problem solving and getting on, when it happens.
  • Encourage siblings to compliment each other. Go round in a circle giving compliments and then have each person say how it felt to be told something nice/be praised.
  • Use special time for each children individually so that they feel less of a need to compete with their siblings for parental attention.
  • Help children to identify when arguments are going to happen, e.g. what does their sibling look like when they are really angry. Then suggest walking away at that point until they have calmed down.
And here goes some more explanation on the psychodynamic perspective of sibling rivalry:

The oldest child experience the shock of losing the exclusive relationship with parents, their world changes entirely for them. The younger siblings never know a world without the oldest sibling/s, however, each time a new child comes along they experience the loss of their parents attention.

Families require different roles for different family members, e.g. the organised one, the naughty one, the helpful one, the funny one. It is normal to have roles that people take on but it is important to not let children become stuck in these roles, e.g. especially the naughty one, the one that fails. Remind children that everyone has different parts of themselves and it is ok to show all of the different parts, e.g. the angry part, the good part, the part that wins, the part that fails.

If two people clash strongly (as some siblings do) then it is likely that each person unconsciously wishes to be more like the other person but feels they have to suppress that part. When people see things from each others point of view and can understand that each person would like to be more like the other one then there is opportunity to move away from the rivalry.

Be ware that sibling rivalry helps shape future relationships, both friend relationships and work relationships. For example, if you have only sisters you may find yourself more competitive with girls. If you are a girl with brothers, you may find that you get better with boys. So it is important to help children work through sibling rivalry.

1 comment:

TheBoy said...

Very well explained


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