Sibling rivalries are a part of having siblings. If a family has more than one kid, there will be some amount of friction between them. I had it worse than most when I was growing up. As the youngest, I had three older brothers and no sisters. And the youngest of those borthers was three years older than me, so I got the tar beaten out of me regularly. The best I could hope for is that my parents would occasionally catch them int he act, because going to tell Mom or Dad just got me a tattler reputation and brutal reprisals later. It was a no win situation for me, and I had to toughen up, get good at plotting revenge, and just hope for the best.
Not all rivalries resulted in bloodied noses and/or lips, though. Myolder brothers were not just balls of violence waiting to be unleashed on me. Sometimes the infighting in my family resulted in far worse than a beating. Believe me, when your three older brothers wrap you in duct tape from head to foot and sit you in a corner for 7 or 8 hours, when you are 6 years old, no less, you will beg for a couple of good punches if they will just let you go.
I survived it all, and as fate does have a sense of humor, I grew up to be bigger and stronger than all my borthers. It was very satisfying to have my brother’s back once when a college party got out of control and swings were exchanged. In retrospect, I probably would not have held my own quite so well had it not been for the myriad torture and abuse I suffered growing up.
But now as a parent, how do I handle it when my own children are constantly at each others’ throats. When one of them is in pain, in causes me pain, and I cannot just let them go at it, at least not as often as my brothers and I did. So here are some tips on maintaining peace and avoiding avoidable visits to the emergency room.
1. Take things away: 9 times out of 10, when your kids are are the brink of violence, there is some material posession that is at the center of it all. He is using her stuff, she is hogging the computer or the television, something. Your first task is to get it out of both their hands before trying to get them to shake hands and make up. And the kids learn that fighting over something will not win it for them, but will cause them to lose it anyway, so fighting will not be their first choice of conflict resolution.
2. Send someone outside: If you catch who the instigator is, send them outside. DON’T send them both outside, or one will return crying, I promise. The kid who gets banned fromt he house will learn that exile is the consequence of troublemaking, and hopefully calm that crap down in the future.
3. Set a Good Example: your kids learn from you, and they believe, for a while at least, that you know everything, so they will watch for how you deal with conflict and take cues from you. Try to handle conflicts in a responsible, adult manner, and, theoretically at least, your kids will too.
4. Let them have at it: when all else fails, let them wail on each other. If you jump in a break them apart every time, you are just rescuing them and keeping them from learning from their mistakes. Eventually, the bad actor needs to receive his/her just rewards, so let it happen. Hopefully they will learn fromt heir mistakes and settle down some during future disagreements.
Very few kids are going ot get along all the time. Rivalries between them are nearly inevitble, so try to keep your head when they lose theirs. Beyond that, just do your best to make sure nothing turns lethal.