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Child Health - Parenting
   
  Common Asked Questions on Parenting

Sibling Rivalry

Q: My two kids are a headache to me. They often fight over trivial things.
   
A:

Competition between siblings is natural in a family. Getting involved too readily will only make the children compete more for your attention. You may stay out of it to let them settle their problem first. If they can come to an agreement peacefully, all you have to do is to praise them for being able to respect each other and to solve the problem.

   
Q:

Their fights are so bad that I'm afraid I have to step in.

   
A:

If they can't settle the fight or start to use violent means, you are right to step in and separate them immediately. Tell them they have to calm down because they are getting aggressive. Then try to be impartial and guide them to talk about what they are fighting for. Listen to their feelings. Lead them to think of alternatives that aren't aggressive. When they've come to an agreement, tell them you are proud of their being able to settle the problem peacefully and remind them to use the solution when similar situation arises again. Of course, we could handle these situations better if prevention measures are taken. You may set two or three rules on getting along with siblings, e.g., 'take turns' or 'talk softly'. Make it clear that they will have to receive a logical consequence such as 'have the toy taken away for two minutes' or 'go to quiet time for one minute' when they do not follow the rules.

   
Q:

My older son often complains that I am partial to his younger brother. But I am only teaching him the virtue of being kind by giving way to the younger.

   
A:

It's natural for parents to protect the small children from possible harm. However, it's not always true that the little ones are always the ones who are being bullied or that we should forgive the little ones because their judgment is not well developed. Sometimes, we overlook our children's feelings but they would like us to be fair. If you often take sides, your child may feel that you love him less or not understand him, leading him to be frustrated and resentful towards you and his sibling. Try to be impartial and open. Observe the interactions between your children. Take their perspectives and listen to what they feel. You may let the older child know that you understand his feeling, e.g., 'You're so annoyed by your little brother who keeps bothering you.' Then talk about other alternatives with him. Also manage the younger child accordingly, such as distracting him away from the older child and teaching him rules and logical consequence. You may refer to the recording on "Noncompliance" for details.

   
Q:

Are there any ways to teach the kids getting along so that they would cause less trouble for me?

   
A: Conflicts between children are inevitable when they are still learning to get along with people. Parents have to give guidance to them patiently. Learning social skills begins in the family. Parents are the model for children to learn. Observe your children's behaviours towards others and reflect on whether they behave like any of you in the family. If you want your children to respect people, you may also have to respect them including their privacy and belongings. Give adequate attention to your children. Spare time to play cooperative games or engage in activities with them so that they can learn how to cooperate with others and follow rules. For children with a baby brother/ sister, encourage them to help run errands such as getting a nappy for the baby, involving them in playing with the baby and praise them for being such a caring 'big brother/ big sister'. Every child would like to be the spotlight of parental affection. Try to set aside 'special time' separately for each child. Each child is special and should be treated as such. Avoid comparing your children in front of them. With increasing age, encourage your children to develop their interest and make their own friends. This helps make the sibling relationship less tense when they have less time to worry about the interaction with their sibling.
 
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