Sibling rivalry is unavoidable like many other things in a family setup. This kind of a conflict is actually healthy for the development of your children and most of the time they should be left alone to deal with each other.
While these fights and disagreements are healthy, sometimes interference by parents can cause irreversible damage to a child’s personality. Parents say that they treat all their children equally. However, differences they themselves are unaware of do exist in the form of gender preference, and attitude based on a child’s age or mental level.
Older children are capable of sacrificing and still being happy, but children younger than four years of age are very much concerned about fairness and attention given by parents. That is why when a new baby arrives, he starts feeling insecure and becomes difficult to handle in most cases.
A parent’s responsibility during these conflicts is to protect the rights of everyone. These include rights of safety, and individual choice or personal freedom. A child should be taught that elder siblings have to be respected because of their age difference and that if a thing is not rightfully theirs, they should learn to let go of it.
Recalling your own childhood when you and your siblings used to live together is a good way to start. We know that sometimes, a simple matter can become a serious one when a parent interrupts unnecessarily. Things turn worse and can cause extreme tension between siblings. The best way is to leave your children alone and let them work things out on their own.
It is also important to hear the story of both sides when the case is brought in front of the parents. Extract information from the siblings involved to discover the cause of the conflict. Tell them who was wrong based on interpretation of the problem and facts. Do not just scold the children simply because they had been fighting. Sometimes it is important to bring an elder sibling down to his position in case he has been using his age as a weapon.
Qualities of self-control, respect for others especially elders, and recognition of rights have to be developed from an early age. They are not present there naturally and parents should not expect their children to be born intelligent. A few lectures on the importance of these values are enough. The rest will be taught in the school. However, as parents, you should keep a close watch on the activities of your children.
Your words of admiration in case of an achievement and sympathy in case of a failure are also very important. Avoid favoring one child over the others simply because he is more intelligent, more active physically or much healthier than his siblings. This can cause long-term adverse effects on your other children, and they will usually take their anger out on the favorite child. Develop an environment where every child has a right to speak out his thoughts. Encourage each child to express himself.