10 Ways Parents Can Make Sibling Rivalry Worse

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When you have more than one child you may have to face the war between the siblings at one point or another. You may luck out and not have to deal with any major rivalry issues. But most parents of multiple children usually end up in negotiations between rivals. Some parents are not aware of how their actions play into rivalry and can actually make it worse. Here are some things parents do to create more problems.

  1. Comparing children – When parents compare one child to another, they are only adding fuel to the fire when it comes to sibling rivalry. Parents may not even be aware that they are making those comparisons, but the kids are. Sometimes little comments may be overheard, and this will spark a fight.
  2. Not giving enough attention to one child – This can be inadvertent; for example, if one child is ill or has special needs and the other one may feel neglected. Any rivalry that exists between the siblings will most likely increase under these types of circumstances, unless the parents take the time to explain what is going on and create some extra quality time for the child who feels left out.
  3. Not preparing #1 for the birth of #2 – First born children usually have some time to get used to being the center of attention. A new baby means they will need to move over and, at the very least, share that lime light. Wise parents will include the first born in the process of preparing for the new baby early on, so that the baby’s arrival will be an expected pleasure rather than an unexpected interruption.
  4. Subconscious negative feelings toward one child – Sometimes a parent will have negative feelings toward one child due to something beyond the child’s control; for example, it could be that child reminds the parent of a relative who is difficult to get along with. The parent may not even be aware that they speak a little sharper to this child or come down a little harder on the kid.
  5. Parents may think fighting is acceptable – For some parents sibling rivalry may seem acceptable. They may feel that fighting is the normal way to work out problems between siblings. Such an attitude only reinforces the rivalry and does nothing to help the children find more positive methods of working out their differences.
  6. Lack of quality family time – When parents become too busy to establish quality family time, sibling rivalry can often increase. Sometimes, it is a subconscious ploy on the part of the kids to gain their parents attention.
  7. Parent’s reaction to conflict – A parent’s reaction to conflict will also help in determining whether or not the rivalry between siblings increases or gets better. Parents who tend to ignore conflict can expect the fighting between kids to increase just as parents who accept it.
  8. Parents experiencing stress – If parents are very stressed out and not giving the kids the time and attention they need, chances are that the kids will act out, and fighting and conflicts between them will increase and get worse.
  9. If kids feel there is inequality – When kids feel like there is inequality in the amount of discipline or responsiveness they are getting from their parents, they will act on that. Parents may not even realize that there is disparity in how they are disciplining the children.
  10. Setting kids up to compete – Anytime a parent sets kids up to compete against one another, they are laying a foundation for a boat load of sibling rivalry.

Learning to give you kids the attention and discipline they need, even when you feel you don’t have it to give, will go a long way in easing the tension between them. It may be challenging to do, but giving each of your kids quality time and working with them to foster good relationships with each other will do a lot toward promoting peace and harmony in the home.

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