No matter how loving and easy-going your kids are on a good day, there is always some form of rivalry and competition going on beneath the surface.
As parents, what we do and say can have a major influence on how much rivalry exists among our children.
Trying to nip sibling rivalry in the bud? Here are some helpful ideas to mitigate those feelings of rivalry in your home.
Every child is different and unique. It is our responsibility as parents to discover and nurture our children’s unique intelligence and talents, whether it’s in the area of sports, art, music, or academics.
Identify and call out the different strengths of your children, but do avoid comparing them unnecessarily. Instead, make it clear that there isn’t any strength that is above the rest. And remember to celebrate your children for who they are.
Celebrate effort more than achievement
We live in an overly results-oriented society but we need to remind our children that their achievements do not define their worth. Instead, we should recognise and affirm them whenever they put in the effort and work hard at something.
Such a positive attitude towards learning and life itself is what will carry them through all manner of challenges in life. Help our children see that perseverance and grit, not smarts, are the key ingredients for long-term success.
Build affirmation into your daily lives
Make encouragement a part of the culture of your home. If little brother comes home with a disappointing Math grade, rally the siblings to speak words of encouragement to him. It can be a simple, “I’m sure you can do better next time.” Or, “Maybe get your teacher’s help to learn from your mistakes.”
We may have to show them how it’s done first before they truly understand the meaning and impact of encouragement. This way, they start to appreciate that as a family, we stick close in times of crisis and we have each other’s backs.
Encourage collaboration and teamwork
Whenever you can, teach the kids that we are all on the same team. When it comes to chores, get each child to take charge of different tasks – from folding clean laundry to sweeping the floor or keeping the toys.
Even simple games can help to promote collaboration. If you enjoy playing memory card games, get the siblings to pair up to play against you, and congratulate them for working together as a team.
Dedicate one-on-one time
The root of rivalry is insecurity, or the fear that another sibling will get more love because they are better at something.
To deal with this, it is important to spend one-on-one time with each child – and use this time to remind them that they are precious and loved unconditionally, regardless of how big or small their achievements are.
It may take years before they fully grasp this for themselves, but by that time their self-esteem will be secure and unaffected by how well their siblings do in life.
As parents, we hold the key to helping our children gain confidence in their identity and strengths. With the assurance of our love, they can be free to celebrate one another’s achievements and talents, and be their siblings’ greatest cheerleader.
Written by June Yong
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