Becoming a parent is a beautiful feeling. Even if it is for the second time, nothing can still match its excitement. Having two children in the family gives parents a feeling a completeness. They hope that both their children will go on to become the best siblings and stand by each other through thick and thin. But what they do not realise is the underlying aspect of having two siblings in one house – sibling rivalry. When two children grow together, it’s perfectly normal to have fights or bitter feelings at some stage. But what makes the matter worse is when they start developing vendettas for each other for whatever reasons.
This is called sibling rivalry and all parents must consider its presence in their children’s lives. So they better be prepared to face this awkward situation and find ways to minimise it as much as they can. This process is very long and takes a lot of time and effort.
Here are five actions parents can take to not turn their children into rivals.
- Start early and get the elder one acquainted with the about-to-be-born. Tell her / him that she / he is going to be elevated in the family tree when the baby arrives. Let her / him touch your baby bump and feel the baby underneath. Tell that the newborn is going to be her / his best friend and together they will have a lot of fun. Explain how elder siblings take care of the younger siblings and play the role of a guardian. Take the family album out and show her / him the pictures in which she / he was a newborn. This will help her / him relate when the newborn arrives. So rather than being jealous of anything, she / he will look forward to have a sibling with open arms.
- Tell the elder one that her / his importance will not decrease but increase with the arrival of the newborn. Most children feel threatened and feel unimportant when they see the newborn getting all the attention in the family. This is one of the most important root causes for sibling rivalry. When they see their parents spending all the time and energy on the newborn, they immediately start seeing them as their future rival. It is always better to sit your elder one down and explain how important his role has become now.
- Shower both of them with equal and unconditional love. What snaps elder siblings the most is watching their younger siblings getting all the love. So they try to get back at them by picking up fights over puny matters in their growing years. So when you have two children to look after just make sure that you don’t show any bias and love them equally. Loving the younger one more, will only carve a ditch between the two siblings as the elder one will take ignorance directly to the heart. Elder children don’t like to lose the battle of love to someone who is tiny and can’t even walk or talk properly. Be careful with your love today so you don’t have to see its negative effects tomorrow.
- Make sure not to compare their behaviour or actions as they both grow up. Most parents think that comparing the actions of siblings will make them realise their mistakes and they will learn from each other. But usually the opposite happens. Comparison can just be the seed in which grows the sapling of rivalry. Comparison makes them realise that one is better than the other and is liked more by the parents. This breaks a war between them as they try to outdo each other at every step. So teach them politely when they need to bring their act together, without making a comparison.
- Foster a team spirit but also intervene wherever needed. Team spirit helps bind children together and understand each other’s value better. To do that, you can have them participate in acts and games that require team efforts. This will teach them how individual performances come together for a bigger cause. There are also many household chores through which team spirit can be attained. You can look at them as well. Also, keep a close eye on them and be prepared to intervene when things go out of hand. Even when they are playing or just completing a chore, they can have clashes that need to be sorted by a parent. So keep in mind that while you are trying your best to minimise sibling rivalry, sometimes it’s your intervention that’s needed to end it all.
What all parents need to keep in mind is that siblings are not adversaries. They are just two individuals who are consistently fighting for their parents’ love and attention and trying to make the most of their efforts. Sometimes they do the right thing, sometimes they don’t. There’s no way you can stop small fights between them. What you need to focus on is making the central point clear – friends come and go, but siblings are forever.