Sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up, but it can drive parents crazy. The key to minimizing disputes at home is to know when to let your kids work out their problems themselves, and when to step in and stop the fighting.
The Cause of Sibling Conflicts
Kids aren't always the most rational of human beings -- especially younger children. For this reason, sometimes the smallest issues can turn into major battles and strain sibling relationships to the breaking point.
Here are a few reasons why siblings fight:
Attention. Children are always vying for their parents' attention. The busier parents are, and the more demands there are on their attention, the less they can focus on each child. One of the biggest parental attention drains is a baby. When all of the attention suddenly turns to the family's newest arrival, it can be hard for the other child (or children) to accept losing his or her previous position as the center of attention.
Special needs/sick kids. Sometimes, a child's special needs due to illness or learning/emotional issues may require more parental time. Other kids may pick up on this disparity and act out to get attention or out of fear of what's happening to the other child.
Sharing. Most homes don't have unlimited resources. That means all siblings will inevitably have to share at least some of their possessions. Giving up a toy or other favorite possession to a sibling can be especially hard on young children.
Individual temperaments. Your kids' individual temperaments — including mood, disposition, and adaptability — and their unique personalities play a large role in how well they get along. For example, if one child is laid back and another is easily rattled, they may often get into it.
Fairness issues. Children are like little lawyers, always demanding fairness and equality, and fighting for what they perceive are their natural-born rights. A younger sibling might complain that her older sister gets to go to a concert and she has to stay at home, while the older sister whines that she has to babysit for her little sister instead of going out with her friends. Feelings of unfair treatment and sibling jealousy can lead to resentment.
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