I have three brothers. One older, and two younger. My entire childhood was spent with at least 2 boys if not three in my house at all times. I was never an only child. I always had a friend to play with, and I ALWAYS had someone to argue with. My Mom always joked that she could never have all four kids happy at the same time. There was ALWAYS an odd man out.
It is normal to have some rivalry and arguing going on between siblings. After all, we are human. No matter what we find ways to be different, ornery, and selfish in one way or another. The more time we spend together the more we will find a way to cause an issue with someone. It happens in every facet of life. Work-life, home-life, and in our relationships. So why would it be any different with our siblings?
Sibling rivalry does not need to be a bad thing. Here are a few ways it will help to have a “little” sibling rivalry.
1. Arguments are arguments. They can be settled, it is a way for kids to learn and practice being adults and having to deal with not seeing eye-to-eye with someone else. We should let these smaller disagreements be teaching tools to show kids how to find a middle ground. But we do not want to see them escalate into full-blown physical fights. Conflict resolution is a very important life-skill. So as long as no one is trying to kill or maim someone else, let those little squabbles be the teaching tool they are.
2. Nurture the positive! When you see your kids getting along well and doing nice things for one another, praise them for it! Give them opportunities to do good things for each other. When one has a birthday or reason to celebrate like a graduation take the others to find them a special present, or make them a special card. Promote their ability to praise one another and see each other’s strengths. This can also help them to see their own strengths and see the importance in showing the people we love how much they mean to us.
3. Spend some alone time with each child. This can be difficult, but it really only takes a little while. You don’t have to disappear with each kid for hours or days. Sometimes 15 minutes or half an hour is all that is necessary to make each child realize how important they are. Go for a walk, let one child help you make dinner. Sit with them and chat about their day. By showing them how important they are as individuals they will spend less time fighting over your affection and will spend more time building their own relationship with each other and with you without fearing that they are not as loved as their sibling.
Sibling rivalry is normal in many ways. It is when it gets to be too volatile that we need to pay attention and intervene. So watch and listen, but try not to worry too much.