The single most controversial issue in families with multiple kids is sibling rivalry. Anyone with a few kids knows the pain of having to referee disputes over tiny little things. At times, one wonders at the way two otherwise adorable individuals behave like monsters around each other.
Sibling rivalry comes in many forms. There’s the passive kind, where siblings just don’t want to engage with each other; and there is the active kind, where you have a couple of little wrestlers in the house. And then, there is the passive-aggressive kind, the most dangerous one, where siblings actively try to sabotage things that are important to the other. Most of these behavioural patterns derive from the basic temperament of the child in question and get resolved, one way or the other, as they grow up.
Meanwhile, as you wait for them to affectionately accept each other, there are a few things you can do to ease the process.
Don’t Get Involved
Resist the urge to get involved in every little fight. Reserve your energy for the bigger ones. The moment you get involved, you’ll be accused of partiality. The kid who feels he didn’t get your support will harbour a grudge for years to come.
Don’t Expect The Elder One To Be ‘Grown Up’
She may be your elder child, but she is still a kid. She is in a very vulnerable position as her emotions are still in the formative stage, and thus, very sensitive to influence. Having a younger sibling is overwhelming for most kids since it shifts most of the parents’ attention to the younger one who needs more care. Added expectations of acting ‘grown up’ are likely to do more harm than good.
This is very hard to do. When you have two children whom you observe every day, the urge to compare is irresistible. It is imperative not to fall into this trap. Each child is unique. While some shine in academics, others do so in sports, or the arts, or something else. Further, different children, even of the same parents, find their niche at different times of life. It is unfair to compare apples to oranges, even though they come from the same tree. One way of avoiding comparisons would be to put them in separate schools, so they can grow at their own pace, independent of one another.
Teach The Value Of Sharing
The concept of sharing is built into children by the signals they get from the family environment. For instance, children brought up in families with separate bathrooms and separate cars for each person are less likely to be willing to share, either their possessions or their space Teach kids to share things that would make no sense to buy separately. It is imperative that they have their own bags and books, but toys can be shared. Rooms can be shared. Teach them that a society works on the tenets of sharing and mutual love. When a fight occurs over TV time, get them both to watch each other’s favourite shows.
Bringing up kids is a lot of work. Everything we do and say will make a difference to their personalities. While that is a huge responsibility to shoulder, would you have it any other way?