“Mommeeeeee….Rachel pushed me!” “Mommeeeee…Brandon took that toy and I had it first!”
If you grew up with brothers and/or sisters, the above scenarios probably sound familiar.
If you have more than one child now, you have probably heard similar complaints in your own home.
Sibling rivalry seems to be inevitable, but is it ALL bad?
And what, if anything, can parents do to ease the tension and reduce the conflicts between their kids?
Last year, the University of Cambridge did a study that showed that siblings can have a positive effect on a child’s early development of social understanding (the awareness of others thoughts and feelings) even when there is some discord such as arguing or teasing. The communication between siblings helps them learn to express their feelings and emotions. It is important for parents with only children to make sure they are providing their child with many opportunities for conversation about thoughts and feelings.
Sustained or continuous sibling rivalry, however, can result in behavioral problems and relationship building issues later in life.
With summer here and kids at home, here are some simple steps parents can take to create a more peaceful and positive atmosphere:
- Plan family activities that are fun for everyone.
- Make sure each child has his or her own space.
- Encourage cooperation, not competition…when picking up toys; have the children race the clock, not each other.
- Teach conflict resolution.
- Don’t play favorites or compare siblings.
- Make sure your kids are not hungry or tired or bored.
- Plan family time such as eating meals together.
- Teach positive ways to get attention from each other and from parents.
- Set aside along time with each child.
- Don’t take sides.
- Teach kids to compromise and respect one another.
- Encourage children to express their feeling and find words for them.
- Be a good role model.
Picture books are a wonderful tool to use as well. If you are looking for a great picture book that addresses this problem, there are several to choose from:
Queen of the World by Thomas Yezerski
I Love You Purplest by Barbara Joosees
And one of my favorites:
The Day No One Played Together by Donalisa Helsley.
The Day No One Played Together: A Lesson About Compromise, is a beautifully illustrated (by the talented Sarah Harkey) story of two sisters who want to play together. However, each wants the other to play HER game. When the sisters come to a stalemate, their mom steps in with a suggestion: COMPROMISE. The girls begin to brainstorm many ideas of how they can incorporate what each wants to do so that they can play together. They happily solve their problem and the book ends with the sisters spending the rest of the day playing with each other. Parents…read this story with your children…help them apply the concept of compromise next time there is an argument…and enjoy the peace and harmony.
On the last page of the book, Ms. Helsley provides a simple definition of some of the words in the story that young children might be hearing for the first time. I love this feature of the book…we should always encourage children to understand what they are reading or hearing…this helps build their vocabulary…one of the most important components of literacy.
You can find out more about this great children’s author by visiting her website: www.wildaboutreading.net She has a new book out, I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies.
To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take advantage of the more laid back pace of summer and provide your children with fun-filled moments they will remember forever. Spend time reading with them and doing other activities. If you are looking for great book suggestions and quick and easy activities, please check out my book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.
Life has been turned upside down, here in Colorado Springs. The past week has brought devastation and terror to many residents as the Waldo Canyon Fire raged…fueled by record heat and an exceptionally dry winter and spring. Over 300 homes were destroyed on Tuesday night…consumed by the hungry flames before our eyes as we watched television coverage in shock and horror. The fires are still burning…and the impact will be felt for years to come. Please join me in praying for the brave firefighters and others who are still battling the fire…and for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.