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How to combat sibling rivalry

Smooth out your brood's special relationship with these simple tips


Posted: 5 April 2012
by Fiona McKim

Encourage care and consideration
Our children’s relationships are likely to be the longest of their lives. The bonds between them will help shape their childhood and the people they will become.

Encourage turn-taking
This seems an easier concept for children to grasp than ‘sharing’ which they often equate to ‘giving up’ precious possessions. Once they’ve grasped the basics, turn-taking can also be used to negotiate issues of choice and to encourage listening skills.

Intervene effectively
Encourage children to sort out disputes between themselves. This helps them develop important skills of negotiation, compromise and assertion. Clearly if disputes reach boiling point, the first priority is to stop dangerous or threatening behaviour. In these instances, talking may have to come later.

Try not to take sides
Try not to jump to conclusions; it is generally fairer, and more effective in the long term, to let each child have their say.

Talk about feelings
Children tend to act out their feelings less if they are able to express them effectively.

Consider your own needs
If you’re feeling stressed, you are more likely to snap at your children and they are much more likely to snap at each other. Occasionally prioritising your own needs will benefit everyone.

Praise positive behaviour
Let children know what behaviour you like, and why – and heap on that praise. 

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