“Mommy, Mommy! Joel hit me!” cries Celeste. You think you have everyone quieted down when Joel screams, “Get Celeste out of here! She just spoiled my Legos truck!” It never seems to end. What can you do?
|Photo: Terry Eaton
Sibling rivalry seems to be the worst between seven and nine years, although it usually appears earlier and may last a lot longer. Many family specialists assume it is a natural and normal part of growing up and will, in time, disappear or at least reduce to a livable level. To some extent that is true, but not entirely.
Have you every gone home for a family reunion and suddenly felt like a little kid again? Your parents told you what to do, and you felt all the old sibling rivalries playing around the edges of everything that happened that weekend. How do you feel when your sister gets a promotion and you don’t? Or your brother definitely earns more money than you do? Some families become embroiled in rivalries that never die.
Christian Parents have Loftier Goals
Of course, as Christian parents we have loftier goals for our families. We want love and compassion to prevail at home, as well as outside. What can you do to help reduce sibling rivalry and let your children begin to experience the joy of love and kindness to family members?
The Philadelphia Child Guidance Center offers some excellent guidelines for reducing sibling rivalry in their book “Your Child’s Emotional Health.”
1. Check the quarrel quotient of your home. In a general atmosphere of quarreling and rivalry, children are going to do the same.
2. Try to give each child individual attention.
3. Give clear guidelines that promote respect for each family member.
4. Never compare one child with another.
5. Give your children lots of good-times-together memories.
6. As much as possible, allow your children to settle their own conflicts
Often children can play peacefully with anyone except their siblings. They will be kind and compassionate to other children and adults, but not to each other. Their basic rivalry gets in the way. They’d rather die, they say, than be nice to their brother or sister. If you can minimize sibling rivalry, your children will gradually begin to live more peacefully together and learn to enjoy each other.
"God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33).