curb sibling rivalry

10 Ways to Curb Sibling Rivalry

Whenever my family arrives home, my kids make a mad dash for the front door. I’m not sure why it’s important to them, but they each want to be the first one in the house. As I come to the door with my keys out to unlock it, they are positioned like two power forwards fighting for a rebound. It drives me crazy. Once, I made them sit on the front porch for 10 minutes before letting them come in. Tired of your kids fighting over who gets to be first, who gets to sit in the front seat of the car, who gets served ice cream first? One All Pro Dad reader perhaps has a good way to deal with it: Designate a Kid of the Week.

The idea is simple. Every week, one of your children will get priority with privileges, like sitting next to Dad or getting the mail. Then next week, it’s someone else’s turn. Keep all your kids on rotation and let them know that if it’s not their turn this week, it will be soon. This simple process can greatly curb sibling rivalry. And we all could use a little less of that. Here are 10 more ways to curb sibling rivalry.

1. The “All Are Equal” Method

Jealousy is a prime factor in sibling arguments. That monster can create upheaval in your home. Your kids are vying for your attention and affection. Let them know you have more than enough love to give, and always be fair and balanced in the time and attention you give each of them.

2. Teamwork

Try to plan regular activities that require your children to work as a team. This will promote cooperation, trust, and bonding. A couple of examples would be playing a game/sport/activity that pits them against you or having younger kids put on a show for you.

3. A Privilege Timetable

“You are giving her a cell phone? She is only 10. I had to wait until I was 13!” Siblings remember every detail of what was given to whom and when. Set a timetable for these landmarks and stick to it. If the timetable must be broken, make sure you give a clear and reasonable explanation as to why.

4. Stepping Aside

Sometimes you just need to butt out. A parent can’t resolve every issue. Sometimes when siblings are fighting, you just need to walk away. They need to learn to resolve their own conflicts. In fact, tell them to take their argument outside.  Just make sure nobody takes a golf club to the head.

5. Snapping a Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words. One parent suggested snapping a quick photo when your children are taunting or arguing with each other. Then, show it to them. They will see how silly or ugly the scene was, and it usually ends in laughter and apologies.

6. Family Roles

“Dad, how come I get grounded for doing that but he doesn’t?” The answer to that question is usually “because you are the oldest and know better. We’ve talked about it many times, and now you need to set an example for your brother(s) and sister(s).” Every person in the family has a role. Point these out.

7. Understanding

It is important to understand your kids’ talents and flaws. One son might be a great athlete, and the other might have a gift for music. Never apply a “one size fits all” technique with them. Just because your oldest son loves playing football, does not mean your other son will. Discover your kids’ unique traits and nurture them.

8. Special Circumstances

If you have a child with special needs, they will require a great deal of your attention. This can be difficult for your other children. One thing that can help is allowing your other kids to be involved in the caretaking process. This also applies when children are sick or have injuries. Offset the extra attention by including the whole family in the treatment.

9. Safe Zone

Sometimes kids need time and space to be alone. For instance, your older daughter is in her room talking on the phone with her friends. Her younger sister keeps intruding on her. This surely will cause conflict. Create a safe zone for each child to be able to have time alone, and make sure it’s respected.

10. One-on-One Time

Make it a point to spend time alone with each of your kids on a regular basis. Read a book to your youngest daughter. Shoot hoops with your son. Go for a bike ride with your teenage daughter. Your attention will mean the world to them.

Sound off: What ideas have you tried that have helped reduce sibling rivalry in your home?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you love about your brother/sister?”