While sibling conflict is unpleasant, it is unfortunately unavoidable. However, it is important to view these squabbles as a source of learning for your children. Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, collaborated on the following article to answer parents' questions about managing and preventing sibling conflict.
Managing sibling fights
First of all, keep in mind that siblings who fight are completely normal. Many factors can cause conflict, but generally, jealousy, attention-seeking, the age of the children, and personality clashes are the main causes.
The time to act
It is recommended to wait and not intervene immediately when a conflict arises. In fact, letting children resolve the situation on their own is beneficial in that they work on developing their independence, social skills, and problem-solving skills.
However, there is a limit. When a child uses vulgar words or aggressive gestures, intervention is necessary. The child must understand that this type of behaviour is unacceptable.
How to avoid issues between siblings
Certain attitudes towards children contribute to maintaining or increasing rivalry between them. Make sure you don’t:
- Make comparisons between children.
- Use a child's situation as an example.
- Have a preference for one of the children.
- Put the oldest child in charge all the time.
- Try to be fair to everyone, knowing that each child has different needs
- Enroll children in the same activities, whenever possible.
Jealousy between siblings
Jealousy is one of the causes of sibling rivalry. There is no need to be overly concerned, unless the conflicts escalate out of control. There are some signs of persistent jealousy:
- The child looks sad and bored.
- The child makes jokes in an attempt to draw attention to themself.
- The child does not follow established rules—and knowingly disobeys.
- The child shows impatience or aggression (biting, pushing, etc.) towards their sibling or others.
The best thing to do is to observe the child's behaviour in the presence of their siblings to gain a better understanding of the situation. With these insights, you will be able to address problematic behaviour.
A little trick is to highlight the child's good deeds. By giving positive feedback, you encourage more appropriate behaviours.
Preventing sibling squabbles
Here are a few simple tips that can help parents prevent and reduce conflicts between children in the family.
The arrival of a new baby
The arrival of a baby brother or sister is a life-changing event for a child. Preparing the child during the pregnancy will ensure a smoother transition. A few simple and concrete gestures can help the child understand and demystify the arrival of a new member of the family, for example:
- Use simple words to talk about the arrival of the baby and the changes to come.
- Answer the child's questions using age-appropriate language.
- Read age-appropriate books that talk about birth.
- Involve the child in the preparations and the choice of the name.
- Spend quality time with the child before birth and show them lots of love
- Look at pictures of the child when they were a baby
- Suggest that the child make drawings or arts and crafts for the baby
To encourage complicity between siblings, think about creating an atmosphere that is conducive to mutual support. Also, when children get along well, don't forget to congratulate them! Activities with siblings or the whole family will strengthen their bonds!
Sharing and empathy
Notions of sharing and empathy are essential to developing good relationships with siblings—and society as a whole. Children learn to welcome their siblings' emotions and be open-minded toward them. They also learn to share and to feel joy in doing so. Since children lead by example, parents often serve as role models for this type of learning!
Rest assured, conflict is a part of learning. Even if your kids are fighting, you are a good parent and doing your best!