Parenting Tips

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

This refers to competition between siblings especially for the attention, affection and approval of their parents.

For families with 2 children or more, it is an inevitable situation that parents have to deal with. A Singapore counselor advises: “Sibling rivalry is part of growing up. Be patient and let things run its course.” She has the following tips to offer:
  • Avoid comparison – when praise is given to one child, remember also to encourage the other(s). Constantly comparing yours kids can result in jealousy among them.

  • Avoid being the judge – where there is conflict among the children, parents should try to be impartial. Make a point to listen to their point to views. Find out why the guilty party is lying. Correct his/her behaviour by explaining the consequence of lying.

  • Avoid favouritism – favouritism causes jealousy and even resentment among the children. Where possible, tell them individually how much you love them.
Below are some examples how I deal with sibling rivalry among my 4 children when they were young.

The strongest rivalry symptom was between my no. 3 and no. 4. When I was expecting my youngest daughter, my no. 3 simply did not like it. During the early stage of my pregnancy, she would insist that I carry her although she could already walk. Towards the final stage, when I step into the house after work, she would want to beat my stomach and said: “I don’t want baby.” I had to assure her that she is still my darling.

After her little sister was borne, I got her to play the big sister role. When the little one cried, I would not immediately attend to her. Instead, I would involve all my children, if they are at home and said: “Let’s see what the baby wants.” If it is feeding time, I will get them to help make the milk, get the napkin and feed her if they wanted to. During bath time, I will get them to get ready baby’s clothes, towel, powder and so forth. Sometimes, they also get to choose what their little sister should wear for the day.

For their routine activities like story-telling, playtime and others, I would continue to do with them, where time permits. The important thing is let them know that you still care and they are not being neglected.

I remembered, on one occasion, my son sheepishly stood outside the room door and was peeping at me. I called to him to come in. I looked at him and asked: “You want a hug?” He nodded his head and I opened my arms. After holding him for a while, I told him: “Any time you want a hug, just come to mummy, ok?” He gladly nodded his head again and went off to play. Being a boy, he was afraid to be laughed at if he said he wanted a hug but that assurance surely did him good. He is 19 now and would still let me hold his hand when we go out.

My eldest girl was also jealous of her siblings. When she was 8, I noted that she had been withdrawing herself. One day, I pulled her aside and we had a heart-to-heart talk. She felt that I favoured the young ones more. When I asked her in what way, she said I paid more attention to the young ones like feeding them and other baby-like activities. When I asked her if she wanted me to feed her, she laughed. I told her I catered to all their needs based on their age. I also explained to her that being the eldest, she has all the first priorities like getting all the new things. Most of the usable things will eventually be passed down to the rest. With 4 kids, I definitely have to enforce sharing to save cost.

Glad to say they have been caring and showing support for each other.


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