Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mummy! She Pinched Me!....Sibling rivalry

A Jewish child asked a rabbi "Why does God give people annoying little sisters? All they do is cry all night and poop. Why can't we return them to the hospital, where they came from?"

Rabbi: It's to bring out the love and patience in you.

Little girl: Really? Rabbi: God wants to see how much love and patience you have for you sister, so He can see how much love and patience He should have for you.

Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, competition and fighting between brothers and sisters.  It is a concern for almost all parents of two or more kids. It's one of the things that scare me about having another child. Problems often start right after the birth of the second child.  Sibling rivalry usually continues throughout childhood and can be very frustrating and stressful to parents.  There are lots of things parents can do to help their kids get along better and work through conflicts in positive ways.

Related video: Video showing sibling rivalry even in the womb between twins (Courtesy of Reuters)

Certainly, attention and approval is the keyword. Don't make comparisons, every child is unique and in my opinion, shouldn't be compared with their siblings, you know like how sometimes parents would often compare siblings with each other ( like, in matters such as hard work, and intelligence) the one being descended on might start feeling that his parents hates him/her and likes his sister/brother better even though that might not be the real intention behind the parents comparison and this might start some serious jealousy. So i think each child in the family should be given his/her own goals and levels of expectation that relate only to him/her at least. and encouragement really helps a lot. like "Hey John, WELL DONE!". Words of encouragement give a big boost to self esteem.

Don't make the mistake of dismissing their angry feelings. Contrary to what many people think, anger is not something we should try to avoid at all costs. It's an entirely normal part of being human, and it's certainly normal for siblings to get angry at each other. They need the adults in their lives to assure them that mothers and fathers get angry too but have learned to control it, and that angry feelings do not give license to behave in cruel and dangerous ways. This is the time to sit down, acknowledge the anger ("I know you hate John right now but you cannot hit him with a stick" and talk it through).

Try to avoid situations that promote guilt in siblings. First we must teach children that feelings and actions are not synonymous. It may be normal to want to hit the baby on the head, ( like my little niece) but parents must stop a child from doing it. The guilt that follows doing something mean is a lot worse than the guilt of merely feeling mean. So parental intervention must be quick and decisive.

When possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences. Sounds good but it can be terribly unfair in practice. Parents have to judge when it is time to step in and mediate, especially in a contest of unequal in terms of strength and eloquence (no fair hitting below the belt literally or figuratively). Some long-lasting grudges among grown siblings have resulted when their minority rights were not protected.

Set the rules and regulation in the house and stick to it: having rules in the house especially about respect, no violence etc will definitely curb their attitudes towards each other.

Spend time with each child, like one on one with each child, helps. Because then no one would feel left out or that they don't get any attention. You can have mother child days. Every other Saturday morning or afternoon or evening have one child that you spend time with. They pick what they do and you go off and do that together.If they get that one on one time it tends to get rid of all those she likes me best that you get from the kids. Plus it is a great bonding exercise and you get to talk about things that we dont want to share with everyone else. It keeps the kids close to you as they grow. Family meetings are also great. During the meetings, suggest encouraging each person to share innermost feelings especially about something they don't like in the house, how things are being handled, about each others behaviors, how they can be changed, etc.

Lastly I'd suggest family fun together, Yay!!!. cracking humor, playing ball, pillow fights, a game of Charades, don't forget Monopoly, just about anything the family can enjoy as a whole is definitely fun and it lightens the mood.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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