Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

While we have all learned that sibling rivalry is normal, it can be a difficult task for parents to manage. As I child I remember our father making us "hug it out" until we "felt the love". This tactic never actually caused us to stop fighting, although it did help us to fight quieter so that he could not hear us.

Some issues that influence sibling rivalry are personality, parental treatment, birth order and extended family. There are special circumstances that require extra consideration, such as handicapped or gifted siblings. Additionally, physical or emotional abuse is not considered normal rivalry and demands immediate attention.

Helpful tips for parents on Managing Sibling Rivalry

-Do not take sides or play favorites
-Validate feelings, rather than dismiss them. "talk it out"
-Praise healthy sibling interaction
-Do not make comparisons between siblings
-Encourage siblings to celebrate each other's success
-Role Model how to share and take turns
-Celebrate each child's unique qualities
-Teach and Role Model problem solving skills
-Plan Family activities to include ALL family members

It is important not to intervene in the sibling conflict and allow children to work out their own problems. However, when dangerousness becomes of concern immediate intervention is required. If a child's daily functioning is impaired or if there has been or is potential for physical harm, it is suggested to seek help from a mental health professional.

Jennifer Nadelkov, LMFT

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