Got kids who can't stop squabbling? Here are some ways to keep the peace and keep those jealous feelings at bay...
Got more than one kid? There’s bound to be some sibling jealousy. Maybe it’s because your one-year-old got one more grape than your three-year-old. Maybe it’s your four-year-old and six-year-old who turn dinnertime into a wrestling match because the six-year-old always gets the blue plate. Unfortunately, jealousy between siblings is inevitable, and something us parents should just (sadly) accept. While we reckon it’s impossible to avoid, there are many peaceful ways parents can deal with another “but it’s not faaaairrrrrr..” moment.
Why does jealousy between siblings even happen?
Kids can’t choose the family they’re born into, or each other. They don’t get to decide whether or not their parents are going to make them one or two new little brothers or sisters. And the worst part of all? They have to share their two fave people in the whole world: their parents!
How to deal with sibling jealousy
1. Know that it’s impossible to treat all children equally
As parents, we should be impartial when it comes to giving our kids attention. Right? Wrong! Not only is it extremely difficult, it’s also impossible. There will always be one child who will feel left out, no matter what. It’s about addressing individual needs and not picking sides.
2. Celebrate their differences
Each child should feel as if they are their own person. Don’t ever compare your kids – they have their own strengths and talents. Why not encourage those instead?
3. Get them to love their sibling from the start
If you have a new baby on the way, get your older child as involved with their new sibling as much as possible. Whether it’s showing them ultrasound pictures or asking them to talk to the baby, it’s important for older siblings to feel like they’re in control. Doing so will make it easier for your toddler to accept Bub and encourage them to play the role of big sister or brother.
4. Make each child feel important
What bothers most children is having to share their fave person (you!) with their siblings. The concept of sharing isn’t exactly the easiest thing to teach little children, especially when it comes to sharing Mum. Take the opportunity to spend quality time with each child to show them how much they mean to you.
5. Let them sort their own squabbles
As tempting as it is to always get involved, try to let your kids settle their own differences, especially when they’re old enough to know better. Know when to step in (e.g when more than four fistfuls of hair have been pulled), especially when you have one child that’s a lot smaller or younger than the other.
6. Be mindful of their feelings
Yes, kids can throw the most annoying tantrums or go all out in scream fests loud enough to wake the whole neighbourhood. But feeling angry is a normal feeling and shouldn’t be something we should try to avoid. Acknowledge their emotions (“I know you’re really angry at your brother for taking your crayons”), let them vent and encourage them to talk about it using positive language.
Even if your kids don’t always get along and the crazy, constant fighting gets on your nerves, learning how to manage jealousy is an ongoing process. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing a good job. You’ve got this, Mum!
Top image: Annie Spratt