When raising a family, there are bound to be a spat or two between siblings. It’s easy to get stressed in this situation, but how you approach sibling rivalry as a parent is very crucial. When handled correctly, you can help mend their bond as siblings and ensure rivalries down the road are far less likely to happen:

Highlight Their Individuality 

To make sure a fight between your children doesn’t happen in the first place or to help limit the quarrels they get into, it’s crucial as a parent to highlight their individuality. Help your child find their role and individuality in the family by letting them explore and discover their gifts. Their gifts should be used as an enjoyable way to serve the whole family. By celebrating each of their unique values to the family, they’re able to have more self-awareness and will be able to give the same praise they are given to their siblings.

Have a United Vision

Your family needs to come together and talk about what you all want to be known for. This is an excellent topic for the dinner table to discuss what everyone values most about the family. Start off with a broad theme, then slowly narrow it down to themes such as happiness, faith, love, patience, or whatever your family feels represents them. When your family has a core value, you become much more united. During a sibling rivalry, remind them of the core value of your family and what keeps everyone united as a team.

Give Them Problem-Solving Tools

When a fight between your children happens, it’s important to use the present conflict as an opportunity to give them the problem-solving tools they need for solving future problems. Show them new ways they can compromise, share, or approach a similar situation later on more positively and appropriately. An example may be to teach them “when you say… it makes me feel …” eg: “when you say ‘you’re an idiot’, it makes me feel sad and stupid”. By giving them problem-solving tools, they’ll be able to handle any future spats with one another without the help or mediation of a parent.

Listen and Be Respectful

When your children are fighting, getting frustrated, and are extremely emotional, you must listen to them and respect their feelings. Keep in mind that their emotions are no excuse for negative or aggressive behaviour, but when a child finally feels they are heard, then they are more likely to cooperate peacefully. When it comes to your child hitting during a fight with their sibling, it’s imperative to reiterate that violence is very disrespectful, unacceptable under any circumstance, and remind them that using their words is the only way to resolve the issue. 

It’s worth persisting, sometimes your child’s frustration and outbursts are entirely inappropriate, but they may be expressing underlying struggles in really inappropriate ways. If you take the time to persist, to continue to be with them and listen to them, you have the opportunity to get to the core of the emotion they are struggling with. This, in fact, is an opportunity that you may not have had unless they had had an outburst. In every situation, there is an opportunity.

This article was originally published on LachlanSoper.org.au