What should you do when two siblings differ in academic ability? What should you do when one sibling is ‘better’ than the other? What should you do when one sibling is jealous of the other? What should you do when they start to see each other as rivals and not allies?
Why could this sibling rivalry exist? There are a number of contributors to this. Some of which maybe include:
- If one sibling feels the other sibling is getting more love and attention than they are
- If the siblings have huge age gaps between them
- If the siblings share no common interests
- If the siblings are very close in age
- If one sibling is constantly getting the blame for things the other sibling has done
- If one sibling is doing better in school than the other
- If the siblings are constantly around each other
- If the siblings aren’t spending enough time together
- If the siblings are being compared to each other
- If one sibling has more freedom than the other
- If one sibling is doing better at school than the other
- If one sibling is getting excessive praise and the other sibling is getting no praise
As a parent, what can you do to help your children get along?
Give equal attention and love
Favour one child over the other
Give them the support they need
Compliment one and belittle the other
Put in equal time and effort
Ignore the needs of each child
Give equal praise and compliments
Give criticism where it is needed
Focus on the negative traits
Now we have covered how to treat them both, how can you help them to get along with each other?
If the siblings are of largely different ages, it is important that they both can do what they enjoy in their free time. For example a teenager’s idea of ‘fun’ will differ to an infant’s idea of ‘fun.’ Do not tend to the needs of one child more than the other. Give them the freedom to do what they want to do. If your child is a teenager understand that they will probably want to spend more time with their friends and give them the space to do this instead of forcing them to take responsibility of their younger sibling. If your child is an infant they may want to go to a park on the weekend and that is fine but do not force older siblings to come along if they do not want to. It is important that they spend time apart and are not living in each other’s pockets.
On the other hand, ensure that your children are spending some time with each other in and out of the house. Spending time together at home could get boring or annoying so encourage them to do something active. Little things like going to the corner shop to get some treats together. As for their time at home, make it fun. Involve them either equally whether that is preparing the table for dinner or playing family games after dinner. This will help them realise that they are both equal and are not in competition with one another.
As for differing academic abilities, if they are of similar age, encourage them to work with one another instead of separately. In this manner, they can ask each other for help and can be a form of support to one another. They can build and develop on their knowledge as well as their siblings. This could be explaining something to one another or working on challenging questions together. By doing this, they will come to the realisation that they are a team and are not in competition with one another even if they do have different strengths and weaknesses. It is also your duty to ensure that you are praising them where it is needed. Also encourage them to compliment one another.
Demolishing sibling rivalry can be a long and tiring journey but remember that harmony is the goal. And there is nothing better than siblings getting along and being a team.