Sibling issues are important on several levels:
- Social skills which will enable your child to make and keep friends are learned and practiced at home – sibling relationships affect peer relationships.
- Constant negative interactions, bickering and name-calling also affect childrens’ self-image, and they begin to feel bad about themselves.
- And of course, home life becomes far less pleasant for everyone in
this negative atmosphere.
What causes sibling problems?
It’s easy to forget when children are misbehaving that there’s always a reason why children do things or don’t do things. The reason may not make much sense to us, but it is useful to understand what the child’s motivation is. That understanding will enable us to respond more effectively.
In terms of evolutionary psychology, rivalry and a competitive drive are nature’s way of making sure the young of our species practice and improve their survival skills. Realistically, even when parents implement effective strategies, a small amount of sibling conflict will remain. This is natural and inevitable.
It’s important to recognize that at times brothers and sisters are going to be upset with each other. As adults, we regularly get upset or annoyed with our friends and coworkers. We certainly get upset with our partner, if we have one, and that’s a person we’ve chosen to share the rest of our life with. So it’s not surprising that children, being immature, will get upset at their siblings. We need to distinguish between feelings and actions. Upset is a feeling. Angry is a feeling. Jealous is a feeling. There is absolutely no way to completely eliminate anger and jealousy and upset between siblings. But we can help our children to feel less threatened and angry so that they won’t react so aggressively. And we can also help our children learn how to handle their frustrations and anger in a less aggressive, more constructive way.
Parent intervention: Helpful or not?
Often, our natural parental reaction is to intervene and referee our kids’ squabbles.
We may be tempted to lecture and scold, moralize, reason, take sides or blame.
But when we fall into the trap of reacting in these ways, we are giving our children attention, in fact highly intense attention, for negative behavior. We know that children crave the attention of their parents—even negative attention is better than no attention. So unfortunately, when we get pulled into the sibling drama, we are actually reinforcing the behavior we don’t like!
In the Siblings With Less Rivalry CD Set, Noël Janis-Norton shares an entirely different approach, giving you positive strategies that help siblings can get along 90% of the time. There are three types of strategies taught in this CD Set: prevention, early intervention and crisis management.
- Prevention is all about what you can do to head off problems.
It’s about strategies you can use when your children are playing together peacefully or simply leaving each other alone.
- Early intervention covers what parents can do to nip potential problems in the bud when we can see that things are starting to go wrong.
- Crisis management is about what we can do when we’ve got a full-blown fight on our hands. All these tools combined will help siblings play together better, like each other more, feel less jealous and competitive, and upset each other less.
To reduce the amount of sibling rivalry, parents need to start by putting most of their emphasis on prevention strategies—heading off problems, and this CD Set is packed with powerful strategies to achieve this goal.
How we respond when things start to go wrong will also determine whether the fighting stops or gets worse. There are a number of strategies we recommend. One of the most effective ways parents can respond is to use a “Squabbling Place”.
The Squabbling Place
Your children have a right to argue – and you have a right not to listen to it! As soon as children start squabbling near you, send them to a designated squabbling place. Insist that they go there and that they stay there until you tell them they can come out.
The squabbling place is not intended to be a punishment—it’s a way to let them squabble without your having to listen to it. But if you merely threaten to send them to the squabbling place they will lose respect for you, and it will definitely seem like a punishment. For example, don’t say, “If you two are going to tease each other you’re going to have to go to the squabbling room.” They already are teasing each other within earshot of you, and you don’t like the noise, so they need to go to the squabbling place. Don’t give them a choice of either going to the squabbling place or stopping the squabbling. If you do that, they’ll stop annoying each other for a few minutes, and then the bickering will start all over again. Be strong. Insist!
Before you use this strategy, make sure your children know about this new rule. At a time that’s neutral (when you are calm and when your kids aren’t hassling each other), tell them about this new rule. Once you’ve told them, ask them to tell you: “So what’s the new rule?” It’s important for them to tell you the rule in their own words because that’s how they’ll remember it, otherwise it just end up sounding like a lecture.
The more you practice these sibling skills, the more your children will enjoy each other, appreciate each other and play together peacefully, and they will be learning how to solve the inevitable conflicts that arise in all relationships. Sibling relations will improve, and family life will become calmer, easier and happier.
>> Buy the Special Needs CD Set Here