This is a question that comes up regularly when I teach a Parenting with Love and Logic® class series. This may surprise you, but from all my research and experience, the key to decreasing sibling rivalry is to not get in the middle of it - which is easier said than done. If you are like me, when your children fight, verbally or otherwise, it frustrates you and dare I say - it hurts. It hurts to see my children not cherish one another because I know over time they will need one another in their life.
Late last year, I posted a Love and Logicism about sibling rivalry; “There is no case of sibling rivalry that can’t be made worse by a strong dose of parental frustration, anger or worry.” When I read the sentence, I was so convicted because our family had been going through a difficult time around sibling rivalry. Even though our kids are grown, they were working out new adult relationships with one another and unfortunately I was in the middle of it. Needless to say, I was making the issues so much greater, and lasting longer by being involved.
After God hit my over the head with the Love and Logicism, I stepped back from the issues between my children. I went back to the basics of parenting and controlled what I really can control and that is myself. I told my adult children what I was going to do for the holidays and invited them all to join me as long as they could be kind and respectful to everyone. I listened to needs and again responded with what I was willing to provide. To my great joy, over a few short months the issues between my adult children have faded and we even enjoyed a light-hearted birthday dinner out this week. I truly believe that my involvement was what was fueling the rivalry.
I encourage all of you, no matter how old your children are, to stay out of the issues. Here are some tips from Love and Logic®:
Handling Sibling Rivalry:
- Stay out of the problem whenever possible. Avoid teaching your children that fighting with each other is a good way to get your attention.
- Say to them, “It looks like you guys have a problem that you need to solve. I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions about solving this problem when both of you are calm.
- Separate them if necessary.
- If your kids continue to hassle your eyes and ears with fighting, say, “I’m going to have to do something about this. We’ll talk when everyone is calm.”
- Expect them to replace the energy they drained out of you by doing extra chores, hiring a babysitter so that you can go out and relax, staying home instead of being driven to their friend’s houses, etc.
Also, this is a great CD resource from Love and Logic.