Sibling rivalry seems almost unavoidable. While virtually all brothers and sisters will have the occasional squabble, there are a lot of things that parents can do to help improve the chances of raising siblings who get along.
1. Avoid comparisons. Every child has their individual strengths and weaknesses. If you are always asking your child why they can’t be more like a sibling, or insinuating that they should be able to do something just because their brother or sister does it, you are setting the stage for fierce sibling rivalry.
2. Don’t play favorites. It should go without saying, but unfortunately there are parents who favor one child over another and make it no secret. Actions speak louder than words, and no matter how many times you say that you love your children equally, if you are consistently treating them differently they will definitely pick up on your favoritism. Not only will this create sibling rivalry, but you could be setting your children (particularly the least favorite) up for a lifetime of emotional issues.
3. Do things together as a family. This is just a good idea for the whole family’s well-being, but siblings who are engaged in family activities and having fun together are more likely to get along than those who retreat to their room and spend most of their time alone.
4. Teach children to talk about their feelings and listen to the feelings of others. These are good skills for everyone to have, and they can be particularly helpful when siblings are dealing with the problems that will arise between them while they are living at home. If your children are taught not to resort to yelling and violence when confronted with conflict, they will be less likely to resort to these behaviors when dealing with their brothers and sisters as well.
5. Raise your children to respect differences. Children who respect others, and all of our differences, will be more likely to get along with their siblings. Brothers and sisters with radically different personalities will be more likely to accept one another if they are raised to view diversity as a positive thing.
All siblings will have their moments of conflict. It is difficult for people to live in the same home and never have a problem with one another. However, the tools that you give your children can make the difference between fleeting disagreements and constant sibling rivalry. Giving your children the tools to get along with others, including their siblings, will set them on the right path to get along for the rest of their lives.