Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry

Teaching Self-Government. one of the questions people ask me all the time is "How to deal with sibling rivalry?" Well, that's what this article is all about. Sometimes children get caught up in what they feel like in the minute, with the little teeny details of what somebody's doing bugs them. 

What they want, what they don't get. Who took this from me. Those little details can cloud the view of the bigger picture. Unless they don't have a bigger picture. In which case the details become everything. But hopefully, your family will decide that it's a good idea to create a bigger picture for your children and for yourselves. 

Look ahead 10 or 20 years into the future and you create a story of who you're becoming. It's powerful for the family to have something to hold on to and to remind them that they are indeed headed in a specific direction. 

Those little bitty moments along the way are just bumps and learning opportunities. Once your family establishes a family vision, then that is an instruction for the family that they can have forever. They can hold on to it. If they ever behave in a way that is mean or unkind to family members, then essentially, they are not following the family vision

So then you can correct that and you have a reason to correct that besides something that seems demeaning to them. "You're so rude. You're..." You know, sometimes we say things like that. And those aren't the things that really help a person care about making a correction. 

In fact, sometimes they just become even more defiant and ruder just because they want to show you that they don't care. So, give them something to care about. That's a good thing that the family vision does for us. 

There are 4 basic skills that I taught all of my foster children and that I even taught the two troubled teens that came from Britain to stay in our home the show the world's strictest parents. If you haven't seen that program, you're probably going to want to see it. It became their most-watched episode ever. They told us on the BBC. 

There's a link to that world's strictest parents episode in the top corner here. So, we taught them 4 basic skills. We taught them how to follow instructions, accept no answers, accept consequences, and disagree appropriately. Those are the 4 basic skills that a person needs to know to control themselves and learn self-government. 

Self-government means taking ownership of your own behaviors and your own thoughts and your own condition of the heart. And doing something about the problems you see within yourself so that you can become a better version of yourself. 2 of the skills of those 4 basic skills are really perfect for sibling rivalry. 

What I've noticed is that when siblings fight, it's usually because one person did not accept a no answer from another person. Accepting a no answer involves looking at the person, keeping a calm face voice, and body. 

Saying okay or asking to disagree appropriately with the person and then dropping the subject. That's actually what this little book teaches that I wrote called Porter Earns a Quarter. There's another book called Paije Takes The Stage which teaches the other skill that usually children need to conquer their sibling rivalry habits because truly they do become habits. 

This book teaches disagreeing appropriately. To disagree appropriately, you look at the person, you keep a calm face, voice, and body. You say that you understand the other person's point of view and then you share your point of view. You listen to what they have to say. You say okay and then drop the subject. 

Those 2 skills if learned can not only be used with parents, teachers neighbors, everybody. But they can be used with siblings as well. So, what does it look like when I correct a fight that has happened between 2 siblings? When 2 siblings have been fighting and one of them comes to me crying or I hear a commotion in the other room, then what I do is I go to them and I move them to a different location. 

The reason I move them to a different location is that usually, the fight is too fresh where they were. And I want them to have a third-person perspective of what happened to solve the problem effectively. So, whoever came to get me or whoever happened to be crying or maybe the youngest person gets to go first in telling me exactly what happened in the situation. 

Nobody else can talk during that time. Only that one person. Everybody else has to wait their turn. And I tell them they'll all get an opportunity to tell me. But they've got to wait. So, that one child tells me. And then I repeat back to them. Is this what happened? Yes. Is there anything else you need to add to it? No. Or maybe yes they say. And then they tell me, I repeat that back. 

Then we move on to the next person. We go around the group. Every person tells me exactly what happened in their words from their perspective. Then I repeat back to them the story that I just heard including any disparities. Because it's pretty obvious after they hear things that don't match up in other people's stories. 

When you put the whole thing together, surely that can't all be accurate. I don't go looking for whose fault it is. That's key. If we spend our time trying to hunt out the person who is truly at fault, then many people don't get the opportunity to learn any skills and then they become obsessed with pointing fingers at each other. Sometimes this leads to dishonesty and manipulation to try to point fingers at other people in various other things as well. And it creates competition among the siblings in the family. 

There should not be competition. When you go looking for who's at fault, that creates competition among the siblings. So, instead what I do is say, "Well, it looks like so and so took a toy from the pile that somebody else was using. So, really when that pile was in front of that other child, that's a boundary issue. That's a no answer. And so, you crossed over that boundary which means you did not accept a no answer." 

Then I look at the next person or maybe the one that was taken from their pile. And I say, "It sounds like when so-and-so took it from your pile, you got angry at that person. You yelled give it back and you tried to grab it from them." So, I always tell them that if they're disagreeing appropriately and it doesn't work, then they can always come and get me and I will help them walk through the solution. I will help them disagree appropriately with each other so that it does end up working. 

There is just no reason to have them fighting with each other. It's a really common philosophy among parents that sometimes children need to fight it out. I haven't seen that to be the case. That doesn't mean a child can't ever learn a lesson from fighting it out. But why would we have them fight it out when there's a skill that they could learn? What does fighting it out teach them? Maybe one person learns not to cross a boundary. MAYBE. 

It's a big maybe. But when I do group problem solving like I just described, each of them learns the skill that they need to handle the situation in the future. It's way more proactive. Fighting things out is reactive and it creates bad feelings among siblings. 

Another way to stop siblings from fighting with each other is to make sure that they are not getting overstimulated by things outside the family and they're not knowing how to communicate within the family. So we do some things in our family. We have family activities. 

That happens every single week at least once. Sometimes multiple times. The whole family is there. We join together, we play together and we strengthen our bonds and our relationship with each other. We also have family meetings where we get together and discuss problems that we see in the family and possible solutions for those problems. 

We listen to everybody's voice. We share opinions, we take votes. There's a format we follow that leads us to bond in those family meetings that we have together. What I have noticed is that many children who struggle with sibling rivalry are oftentimes looking outside of the home for their sense of fun and connection. 

Sibling rivalry can be a symptom of being disconnected from family relationships. So, if my children are having lots of sibling rivalry, I always say to them that I'm going to prescribe that they have no friend time for a while. It might even be a month. And that they have no media time for a while. 

Except for maybe one family movie night a week that we would have together as a family. Because media time and friend time actually are things that the child connects to that are outside of the home and family.

If their connections inside the home and family are suffering, why would I be constantly having them connect outside of the home and family? The connection inside home and family is what makes for healthy connections and communications outside of home and family.

So, we just pull it back, get things where they need to be with their siblings and with their family members. And then we start allowing those other connections again in moderation so that they don't become out of balance. 

Many children who struggle with sibling rivalry are playing with their friends all the time. Texting their friends all the time. Constantly looking at games and TVs. That's an easy fix. Just put the family relationships first. Tell them you know that they can do that. There are a lot of other effective things that you could be doing to strengthen your family bonds and communications.

Post a Comment for "How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry"