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Proactive strategies for handling sibling rivalry – 2

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To manage sibling rivalry, there are proactive strategies that should be considered to mitigate this discordance in the home, says parenting coach, family and education enthusiast, Chinekwu Oreh.

Create the right family values: Your family values are the standards of behaviour and principles that govern your family life. Having the right value system goes far in shaping your children, and will go a long way in handling the root causes of sibling rivalry. To promote sibling bonding, you should ensure that team-building, mutual love, respect, empathy and care are integral in your family values.

These values should be communicated and expressed to your children at every opportunity. Make looking out for one another and celebrating one another’s success a norm in your home. Likewise, set rules for acceptable behaviour at home.

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Celebrate beauty in diversity and discourage unhealthy comparison: Unhealthy comparison comes as a result of a fixed opinion on what success should mean. A child might be excellent in sports, another in nurturing relationships and yet the third in cerebral activities; every child definitely has an area in which he or she is good at. Success should be defined as being the best version of oneself. Every parent should therefore work towards helping their children identify who they are, encourage them along that path, celebrate the beauty in the diverse nature of their children and encourage the siblings to celebrate one another.

Proactively promote equity over equality: Equity means giving every child what he needs per time and this differs greatly from equality. Equality says every child gets the same treatment, so this may translate to mean for example if one child gets an injection because he is ill, all the children will get same. You see, parents sometimes make the mistake of promoting equality and when this is not possible, children will revolt and see the unequal treatment as being unfair.

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This can drive rivalry. If you teach your children from an early age, the concept of equity over equality, they will understand that they all have unique needs and might not get the same thing at the same time. This will reduce unnecessary friction and aid understanding. Equity says the older stronger child might get more chores than the younger one, or the baby that can’t do much for himself gets more attention from his parents.

Teach conflict resolution skills: Another thing you need to do as parents is to start early to teach your children how to resolve conflicts amongst themselves. If you step in whenever there is a misunderstanding between them, chances are that resentment might grow if someone thinks the other party is more favoured in the conflict resolution. When they are able to solve their problems amicably, with the right skills, they will bond better.

In conclusion, the public health practitioner said, “sibling rivalry might rear its head in your home but if you have a proactive approach to handling it as highlighted above, it will not metamorphose into a monster tomorrow. In all of this, try not to sweat the small things so as to avoid burnout. Proactively creating an atmosphere of love and bonding amongst members of the family will surely help to cement the relationship between your children in the long term.”

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