EP21 - Strategies to Effectively Manage Sibling Rivalry
You asked and we delivered! Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence in most households with kids of all ages. In this episode, we cover the best strategies to manage sibling rivalry while your children are growing up so that they can retain a deep, healthy bond into adulthood.
Be sure to listen for:
· Statistics related to sibling rivalry in childhood and adulthood
· The common worries that parents have as a result of sibling rivalry
· The various symptoms of sibling rivalry and why it occurs
· How sibling rivalry can increase the risk of mental health issues
· The benefits of sibling rivalry
· The difference between being fair and equal
· Unstructured ways to build a positive sibling relationship
· Concepts that we can model and teach our children in order to foster a healthy sibling relationship
· The green light to red light guideline on when to intervene on the fighting
· Strategies to manage the sibling rivalry
About the Hosts:
About Dimple Arora – Founder of Mindful Evolution
Dimple Arora is the founder of Mindful Evolution (ME) — a parenting movement that aims to empower parents and their kids towards positive transformation and life-changing results...one thought, one emotion and one choice at a time.
Dimple is an expert in women and teen empowerment and specializes in helping individuals reduce the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety using mindfulness, nutrition, EFT tapping and other energy psychology modalities. Dimple is a Certified Life Coach, EFT and NLP Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist and Energy Therapist. She holds degrees in mathematics, business, and education and was previously employed in the corporate world and as a high school math teacher.
You can book a complimentary coaching call with Dimple on her website at https://www.mindfulevolution.ca and connect with her on social media.
About Shaista Fatehali – Founder of Thrive Kids
Shaista Fatehali is the founder of Thrive Kids BC where she works with children and families to help nurture connection, empower a sense of self - worth and discover what is needed for individual families to thrive. Shaista is a speaker and the author of the children’s book BACK HOME; which has received accolades nationwide. She is a certified children’s and parent life coach and works with clients to build soft skills such as interpersonal awareness, effective communication, emotional agility emotional regulation, problem solving, transition planning and mindfulness . As a teacher and mother of two young girls, her true passion lies in giving her children, her students and clients the tools to reach their most true authentic selves.
To book a complimentary call with Shaista or to learn more about Shaista and the programs she offers at Thrive Kids BC, please visit her website at https://thrivekidsbc.ca/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/thrivekidsbc/
Thanks for Listening!
We are so grateful to have you join us! To continue the conversation and connect with us and other like minded moms, head on over to join our free Facebook
I AM MOM Parenting Community! We are honoured to use this podcast as a platform for real mom conversations that help you feel inspired to take action to create a family environment where everyone can thrive. We want you to not only feel inspired as a parent, but as a WOMAN.
If you know of someone who can benefit from this message or who would be an awesome addition to our community, please share using the social media buttons on this page!
Please post questions or notes about this episode in the comments section below!
We would love to keep you updated on every episode! To get automatic updates of new podcast episodes released every week, please follow us on the podcast app that you use on your mobile device. You can also subscribe to our email lists on our websites Mindful Evolution and Thrive Kids for a free gift and weekly podcast reminders!
Leave Us an Apple Podcasts Review
We pour our heart and soul into making this podcast a valuable part of your week. We appreciate every bit of feedback to create an exceptional experience for you. Ratings and reviews from our listeners help us to improve our content and your experience. Your review is also critical in helping us to become visible so others can find us on their podcast apps. If you have a minute, an honest review on iTunes would be much appreciated! Thank you so much! Have a beautiful day!
Imagine being present calm and connected, while creating a family environment where everyone can thrive.Dimple Arora:
Welcome to the IM mom parenting podcast, providing inspiration and actionable steps to manifest the meaningful and magical life you desire for you and your family.Shaista Fatehali:
We are your hosts dimple, Aurora, founder and mindful evolution and shape the daily founder of Thrive kids.Dimple Arora:
Thank you for sharing the I am mom journey with us. Let's get started. Hi,Shaista Fatehali:
and welcome back to the I am mom podcast. Today we're going to get into the topic of sibling rivalry. Now if you have more than one child in a household, chances are that sibling rivalry is something that you have definitely seen as it is in evitable. It is the bane of parents existence. And it often leaves us exhausted and leaves as worn out. And we are tired of the quote unquote teasing, bickering and fighting. And we might even wonder like, Why are kids fighting so much? Well, if you're listening to this podcast, you are probably wanting to figure out some ways that you can promote a warm and close relationship between your children. So they can carry this forward in to their adulthood. And we are going to be giving you really great strategies throughout this episode.Dimple Arora:
This is a fascinating topic, because when you think about it, a sibling is usually someone that you will no longer than any other person in your life. So there's such a deep psychological bond that forms in childhood and I read somewhere that only 1/3 of siblings remain close in their adult life. And in adults, we often see like sibling sibling rivalry happening after parents pass away. And when I work with adult clients on inner child healing, siblings play a huge part in those memories. And it's often not very pleasant. Right? So when parents see their children fighting and childhood, like you said, it's so stressful to always be putting out these fires, it can become so exhausting, cause so much tension in the home. And when parents witness their children not getting along in adulthood, it can be so painful.Shaista Fatehali:
Yeah, exactly. We worry, right? We're worried. We worry for many reasons, we're worried that they're going to get physically or emotionally hurt, or where you're worried about their self esteem is going to be damaged, especially if this is happening over a long term. But we're also worried that you know, if they're fighting with their sibling, what if they become bullies? What if they never stopped, but they never, they never stop fighting? And if they never stop fighting, what happens in the future with their relationship skills?Dimple Arora:
Are they going to lack empathy or not care for others. And we don't want that as parents, right? We want to ensure our children are kind and compassionate, as well as assertive and stand up for themselves. You know what, that's such a good point, because I was reading some stats online about sibling rivalry and some pretty reliable sources. And one of them said that about a third of kids who have a sibling have been targeted for some form of physical or verbal abuse, and that sibling rivalry in that form can create a higher risk for mental health symptoms in the future. SoShaista Fatehali:
that's, that's really quite quite an alarming stat.Dimple Arora:
It is and and, you know, what do you think about it, the general public, we have a higher tolerance for bullying behavior that occurs between siblings than any other group. Right. And it's something that we kind of we accept it, we deal with it. But the kids who have been bullied in the form of sibling rivalry, stats show that they actually tend to feel more anxious, they do worse in school. They're not able to socially adapt to new situations as easily. And so this is a really important topic to address. And because there's a lot of symbol symptoms to this problem, it can show up in various ways. And there's a lot of reasons why sibling rivalry exists too.Shaista Fatehali:
Yeah, there's there are right. And some of these could be because they want to feel powerful, or they might want attention from you. And this attention could be triggered, because there may be a transitioning happening at home, such as a new baby or a new house and whatnot, right? Sometimes it's also because they're bored, right. And it's just exciting to start an argument with your sibling, right. And that's something that they might even consider connecting with their sibling, they might find that, hey, when I'm fighting, or arguing or teasing my sister, or brother, I'm actually connecting with them. Right. The other thing is, there are times when kids just want physical contact. And for them, they're not sure how else to get that physical contact. So they might start physically being in their siblings personal space, in order to get that. So basically, there is a need there, right. And that need needs to be met. And they're finding ways to go and meet these needs.Dimple Arora:
So true, because a lot of children don't know positive ways to get attention. And so they might start playing something, doing something that they think is playful, but it comes across as picking a fight or being a bully, and they it's a skill that they actually need to be taught. And each child really is there. And they are in a competition of defining who they are, as an individually, like where is their place in the family, right, they need to be seen for their own individuality, their own talents, their own interests. And so they will sometimes come across as attention seeking, but it's because they're trying to be separate from their siblings. And when children are not getting equal amounts of attention, they will somehow attack their sibling for that.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's important to know that even though sibling rivalry is inevitable, there are also some gains to this, there are some positives around this as well, right? Because when they are in this conflict with their sibling, they're actually learning really important life skills. So they're learning to deal with power struggles, or to manage conflict and resolve differences. They're also learning to be assertive, and standing up for their position, as well as maybe negotiating and compromising with each other. And these are skills that aren't just going to come about, but they can be taught in that context. And we'll give you some great ways in which you can do that.Dimple Arora:
Exactly. It's really just teaching them cooperation as well. And how to see things from another point of view, that's really important. And so we want to teach them respect and boundaries and compassion and all that stuff. And sibling rivalry is an excellent opportunity for us to model that to our children.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And there are some great ways in which you can do this as well. So we have a really good strategy. One really great strategy that works really well for kids is teaching them to look at someone else's perspective. And again, this is going to take some teaching, and we'll take some time, but it's worth it in the beginning, because they will build upon this and then do it independently. So for example, if you do have to have your children fighting over who gets the soccer ball, for example, and you are able to help them understand each person's perspective, by writing a story from that person, the other person's let's write, so Jonathan wanted the soccer ball because it was his turn to play. And then I wanted the soccer ball because I was really because or sorry, or the other way around. So seeing it from each other's perspective, then that way You're teaching them that it's not all about what you want at your time that you're looking at other people's needs as well, including your sibling. And storytelling is a really great way of doing this because all kids love to do it.Dimple Arora:
Yeah. And that that's really good because it gives them a chance to be heard and to be seen and to express their point of view. And that's what we want to do with our children is let them be heard and seen. So a lot of times, we'll see parents that say, okay, nobody gets the soccer ball, right. So that sometimes comes across as unfair. And it's important to be fair, but being fair is actually not the same as being equal. Right? So sometimes older kids have more privileges than the younger kids. Yeah. And they will have, maybe they're able to stay up later or something like that. And then a younger child may see that as unfair or the older child has more responsibilities, but they'll see that is unfair, right? So it's really got to be age appropriate understanding of each child, because a lot of things do come into play, like their age gap, right? And their birth order like that, those are two very important factors when it comes to sibling rivalry. So there's going to be times where one feels like they are not getting their fair share of discipline or responsiveness from you, or whatever it is. But it's important to maybe explain the decisions like why why can nobody get the soccer ball right now? Right? Or why am I going to bed earlier? Right? So just explaining to them, their unique needs, according to them, and that actually helps them feel more like an individual person to?Shaista Fatehali:
Yeah, absolutely. And again, I think it does take a lot of effort in the beginning on our part, but then after a while, they will be able to see that they are going to independently be able to resolve these conflicts, because maybe they are the older child, or maybe that they're more there, they feel as though they have that responsibility to do so. And it's because they're able to see it from the other person's perspective.Dimple Arora:
Absolutely. And you know, it's also nice to set aside some alone time for each child, if that's possible, because that's also going to build their individuality and make them feel like they are seen and special. And even when you're alone with each child, you can take that opportunity to actually foster the sibling relationship by by highlighting the positives about their sibling, or, you know, indirectly asking them what do you really like about your sibling? Well, you know, I'm sure they really like this about you like something like that, where there's some conversation happening to build that relationship without them being together in that moment.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm.Shaista Fatehali:
I really like that you're kind of asking them right on the and not not in such, like structured way either, right? And so like, in a fun kind of way, well, you do you know, your sister, I could see that your sister did this. She must really love it when you like, blank blank.Dimple Arora:
Mm hmm. Exactly. And, you know, it's really important for us to, to teach them that they are on the same team as their sibling. Right, that there is there is no competition, that there is that they are allies for each other.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm. Exactly. Now, one of the questions that a lot of parents have is when they should intervene in a in a conflict, right? And when is it better to let the kids work out the disagreement themselves. Now, one way that you could do this is the green light to red light guidelines. Super easy to remember. And with this in mind, you can think about what your children need from you when they are in this conflict with their siblings. And then you can decide if or when or how to intervene. So I'll just give you a little background around this. Okay. So greenlight really is when there's just no Mr. bekkering, there might be some minor name calling, like, where you all siblings experience right? In that role, your role there is just stay out of it, you know, that's the green line, see what happens. yellow light is kind of borderline, the volume is going up, there might be some more name calling. And it might become a little bit dangerous. In this case, you want to acknowledge each other's anger, and reflect each child's viewpoint. So that pencil story activity that I told you would be appropriate in this case. Now, orange light is that there is potential danger, it's a little bit more serious. This is when they're kind of half playing, but they're half really fighting. Okay, so this is when the parents role is to enquire. Are you playing for real? Are you? Are you playing fighting? Or are you really fighting, and if they are really fighting firmly, stop the interaction, review the rules and help them with conflict resolution. Now, red light is something we don't want to get to. But if you do get to this, it's because there is a real dangerous situation, it's physical, emotional harm is about to occur or is occurring. And your role here as a parent is to firmly stop the children and separate them. And of course, if they're hurt, to attend to them, review the rules, and you've imposing a consequences, something that you do, then to do that, as well, right? And it's important, really to understand what is it? Why is it that this is occurring? Right? Is it because the kids want attention? Or respect? Do they want to get outside? Right? Do they need time to work it out? What is it that is evoking this sense of wanting to have this conflict or engaging in a conflict with their other sibling,Dimple Arora:
it's so important to note why it's happening. Because when there's a lot of changes going on, the kids are more likely to to respond to those changes, maybe in a negative way, right through the sibling rivalry. And also the for the younger kids, sometimes it's close to their nap, or their snack time, or what or meal time, whatever it is, that is going to cause them to be a little bit more fussy. So it's important for kids to, for parents to recognize, when like to recognize ahead of time when there's potential for some, some fighting to be happening. And I think it's important to always model to them. I love this analogy you gave of the red light to green light or green light to red light. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And so to to model the resolution with empathy. So to use your body language, use your tone of voice, because scientific studies have shown that parents who listen with empathy and work with their kids to solve these fighting issues, they're more likely to the kids are more likely to model that, right. And kids will feel more heard and more safe. And when you are trying to resolve some of the conflict, like when you do step in, it's important to not make it known that you have a favorite child. Right? Or that, yeah, that you may have a little bit of favoritism towards one child, because this could happen, right? This is something that you don't need to feel guilty for. It could happen. And sometimes what happens is, if one child is more like you or more like your spouse, you may either favor them or be more triggered by them in a negative way. So you may be taking your own feelings out sometimes on the child who is similar to you or your spouse or someone that you're angry with in the family. Right. So it's important not to play favorites and really look at your child again, as an individual person, because that is a common scenario that can happen.Shaista Fatehali:
Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's just a matter of being aware of of yourself, right? And aware of the modeling that happens as well. Right. And kids pick up on the way that we may be having some interactions with our own sibling. So, something to definitely keep in mind.Dimple Arora:
Absolutely. And even today, I spoke to a mom, who gave me an example of her having an interaction with her two daughters, an older one and a younger one. And the older one asks the Mom, Mom, are you proud of me? And she said, Of course, I'm proud of you. And the younger one said, Mom, are you proud of me. And she said, Of course, I'm proud of you. But the older one thought, felt that her, the moms response had a different tone when she answered her older daughter. So kids have a very unique experience with their parents, you could feel like you are treating your kids absolutely equally. But the kids are internalizing everything uniquely and differently. So growing up in the same household having the same parents, but you never noticed that sometimes, each child will be completely different in their own way, and describe their childhood and sometimes in a completely different way, because they've internalized the experience so differently, and that could actually lead to some programming and self talk that can impact in person for the rest of their life.Shaista Fatehali:
Really, wow. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's important to remember again, right that some of the skill, like some of the sibling rivalry is, helps to alleviate that, too, right. So when you're able to really model it, and teach it and use some of these suggestions that we have given you, you will see that your child is able to resolve these conflicts, they will be able to use the these skills when they are in these conflicts later on, right as they grow older, and not just with siblings, like with, with peers, and co workers and friends. So it provides a really great learning opportunity as well.Dimple Arora:
Definitely. So I think it's important for us to always model the repair too, and show kids how to repair the situation and how to repair the relationship whenever it's been tarnished. Because we want them to know that just because you have some rivalry with someone, it doesn't have to last forever, you don't always have to hold a grudge, right, and to teach them how to be resilient within relationships, it's really important. Another thing I want to bring up to is that there are so many factors that come into play. So for people who, like with their, their personalities, and their their learning differences, and they have different behavioral tendencies. And they're all factors that really describe the different qualities of a person, right. So it's important for a parent to understand your child's natural tendencies. So if one child is more anxious, and sensitive, and one is more extroverted, and social and high energy, there's going to be a clash sometimes. So it's important to recognize one one child maybe need some alone time or some downtime, or one needs more movement. I think that's a something for parents to be aware of. You cannot expect both children to to act the same or be the same way at all times. Right.Shaista Fatehali:
Yeah, it really goes down to those personality. differences, right? Yeah. That we all have. And, you know, you think about like, even in a classroom, there's a classroom of 20 kids, each of these 20 kids are going to be different and need different things. Right. And it's about knowing again, and we talked about it a little bit earlier, what is it? What is this need, that is wanting to be met, right for that child who is really, you know, loves to jump around and move around, maybe it is that they're just bored, and they want to get outside and they want to expend some of this energy, right? So it's really about knowing what that need is, and helping them to meet these needs in a healthy way. So that you are not calm founded with all this sibling rivalry, and feeling so worn out and like that you can't deal with it anymore.Dimple Arora:
Yeah, it is really draining for parents. And one thing I want to bring up is preparing your child for when there is a sibling on the way. And I know many parents do this. There are so many things that parents do to prepare the child but some Sometimes parents with a newborn, they may not recognize the needs of the of the older child at that time. And then when the child is older, in retrospect, when they look back, they realize, Oh, I didn't give them enough attention, there was so many changes going on. And you know, in fact, children who are about three years apart, they're actually better able to manage the changes and attention when it comes with like with that comes with a new sibling. A lot of times I see people forcing their older child to, to love the, the new baby right away. Right? So all you love your new baby brother and sister, don't you? And I mean, of course, we want to encourage that. But sometimes those older children, or that older child does not is not there yet. So we want to just make sure that that older child does not feel neglected. There's a lot that there's a lot that's being compromised once that new child comes into the world, right. And sometimes I work with parents, and the older child is now a teenager, and now they're recognizing that when their sibling came, you know, seven years ago or something like that, that there that could have caused some of the emotional issues that they're currently experiencing.Shaista Fatehali:
Right? Yeah, exactly. And you mentioned a good point that up until three, this is something that needs to be worked on at a more intense level. And that's the developmental aspect of it, right. And that's another important aspect to keep in mind, when you do have kids who may be in similar of similar age, that the sibling rivalry will more likely be more intense at that age, right, because they are so close in age. And if they are really young, that developmental stage where they get to a point of looking at each other's perspectives, is going to recur later on. So it's just about being patient about it, and knowing that it will pass, you will. And you will get to a point where there will be an some areas where you can model as we were saying that you can teach and you can teach explicitly.Dimple Arora:
Yeah, so it is a big responsibility on parents. And we hope that these strategies have been helpful today. And there's again, a lot of factors to look forward to, I mean, to look at, and the unique personality of each child, their behavioral tendencies, their learning tendencies, we want to encourage the individuality of each child. And it's important to be self aware ourselves as parents to recognize and celebrate each child's differences. And to be be very aware of how we are relating and responding to each child. We want to teach them respect boundaries, compassion, empathy, cooperation, healthy competition, all of this is the really great benefits that come out of the sibling rivalry. And it's just like you said, should I start to be patient as a parent and you know, hang on for the ride and no one to step in and, and just to model that repair when you need to model that repair. So thank you for joining us today. And we will look forward to seeing you on our Facebook group to discuss this episode. And we hope you have a great rest of the week. Take care. Bye. Thank you for joining us on the IM mom parenting journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, please follow us and headShaista Fatehali:
on over to iTunes to leave us a review. We invite you to check out the show notes for this episode, and click on the link to join our free Facebook community to stay connected and continue the conversation with other like minded moms.