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Having siblings

Having siblings

“Children are like snowflakes. They are pure. They are beautiful. They are unique. They each soar at their own pace. Don’t try to compare them.”

Sibling rivalry is a natural part of children being part of a family. However, it is best advised not to compare children with their siblings. Better Health Channel, an organisation run by the Australian government, reports that sibling rivalry is normal but can be a major issue if escalated. This is true particularly for children, especially around the same age. They also report that sibling rivalry rates are lower in families where children feel treated equally by their parents.
Having siblings can lead to parents being disappointed with their lower performing child, even though they have tried their very best. It can lead to sibling rivalry, which can last for many decades and even spill over to many areas of life.

Comparing children can have long-lasting effects on their self-esteem and mental health and can even push them away from the area that they are being compared in such as sports, music and art.

Practically speaking, parents can break the confidence of their children by setting high standards and comparing siblings’ achievements.
Here are some ways parents can avoid sibling rivalry:

  • Teach your kids that they should only be competing with who they were yesterday – not anyone else.
  • Teach your kids that their sibling is there to help them, not compete with them.
  • Measuring up themselves.
  • Get your children to regularly identify strengths they see in each other.
  • Give your children a problem or difficult question in a certain subject (Maths is always the best subject to use here), and tell them to work together to try and solve it. Add some sort of incentive if they work well together.
  • Catch your children helping each other and openly recognise and congratulate them for doing it.
  • Encourage your kids to play team sports alongside one another instead of against one another. This can help them see that it is much easier to succeed while working together rather than against each other.
  • Teach your children on the importance of family.
  • Show your children how you would like them to behave by being a good example.

Kristen Stralendorf, an educational psychologist at the Family Tree Therapy Center, says parents should “Set your children up to co-operate rather than competing.”

Parents can also avoid comparing their children with one another by:

  • Avoiding playfully speaking about having a favourite child.
  • Letting each child express themselves differently and be who they are.
  • Enjoying and celebrating each child’s talents.
  • Teaching children positive methods of getting each other’s attention.

Spending as much individual time with each child as possible.
While sibling rivalry can be an example of healthy competition, when escalated to certain levels, it can cause many issues between and within siblings. Providing a challenging yet loving environment for your child where they feel that they are appreciated not only for who they can be but for who they currently are, can go a long way to helping your child succeed and live the life they want.

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