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Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

Children struggling for the same toy.

Two or more children often first experience the world of “I’m not the only one in the world?” through a sibling. Children often vie for parents’ love and attention, so to help ease the realization that others count, too:

First and foremost, do not play favorites

consciously pay attention to each child;

spend separate, quality time with each child;

protect each child equally and don’t always “rescue” a younger child from an older sibling (so don’t let the younger child take the older child’s toys); and

lose the labels – the smart one, the easy one, the athletic one or the wild child – focus on positive attributes, such teamwork or kindness, so siblings can begin to help each other instead of competing for their parents’ approval.

Give each child a toy or possession that they don’t have to share;

listen and celebrate each child’s differences:  let each know they are special in their own way;

do not dismiss or suppress your children’s resentment or angry feelings;

whenever possible, let siblings settle their own differences.

Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

All family members need to work together:  parents and children and any others who live in the home and have a stake in decisions affecting the daily life of the family should take part.  To make your family meetings successful, establish some general rules, for example:

  • Everyone gets a chance to talk
  • One person talks at a time and does not get interrupted
  • Okay to say what you feel
  • No one has to talk
  • Everyone has to listen
  • No one puts anyone else down

Develop a plan for evenly distributing coveted privileges.

  • Who gets to ride “shotgun” in the car? (It’s amazing how many teenagers and young adult siblings still make this an important issue.)
  • Who gets to push the button in the elevator?
  • Who gets to choose where to go to eat lunch or dinner?
  • Who gets to choose the television show?
  • Who does what chores (age appropriate) weekly or monthly? Etc.

More importantly, sibling rivalry is an ever-evolving process.  Being proactive with some of these parenting techniques can give your children resources that will serve them later in life.

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About the Author: Yvonne Wonder

As the founder and managing director of Destination Sitters, LLC, a national hotel and event babysitting service, and the mother of two children, I strongly believe that family comes first. I personally needed babysitting when I moved to San Diego 14 years ago. Like most parents, I assumed there were standards for temporary babysitting; in reality, there are no state standards or licensing requirements for temporary babysitting. The idea for Destination Sitters was born! I wanted to Give Parents Peace of Mind® when traveling with their children, so I created strict screening requirements for the sitters we refer. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from getting great professional help to care for your children, especially when traveling away from home. I and my partners, along with our office staff, have that one goal in mind with everything we do. Through the years of working with children, I have been inspired to write three books, and this blog for parents’ and children’s wellbeing. I believe the best way to teach a child is leading by example, with love, honesty, integrity, compassion, perseverance, and personal responsibility. Learning these values and teaching children that all women and men are equal will encourage them to dream big to be anything they want to be! An entrepreneur for over 35 years, I previously spent years running a construction and design company with two offices in California and built million-dollar estates and remodeled existing ones. For three and half years, I was one of the primary designers on HGTV’s Curb Appeal. I have also been published in books, magazines and newspapers, and have been a featured designer in multiple showcase houses.

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