EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — In many families, children count their siblings as friends. But it’s also common for siblings to be great friends one day, and enemies the next.
In this edition of the Parenting Playbook, parents can learn how to get a better handle on sibling rivalry.
If you’re a parent, you’ve likely seen the green-eyed monster. It’s known as sibling rivalry and it’s a universal problem. Of all the issues you encounter in parenting, sibling rivalry may be among the most frustrating, but there are ways to squash the squabbles.
Sherry Elgonitis of Mountain Top is no stranger to sibling rivalry. She’s a mom of two teenagers, Calen, 14 and CJ, 13 years old and she says they argue about “anything and everything.”
“Quantity of what they get. It has to be equal or it’s a problem,” Elgonitis said.
Elgonitis says although the arguments aren’t always intense, she admits it’s frustrating to play referee.
“The yelling gets loud…I yell a little louder to get them to calm down,” Elgonitis said.
Sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity among siblings.
“Sometimes I make it worse because I am trying to make to make it equal to avoid arguments,” Elgonitis said.
For many kids, those arguments entail name-calling, tattling, shouting, poking or hitting, and even breaking or hiding the sibling’s possessions.
According to psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, sibling rivalry stems from children competing for their parents’ love, recognition or attention. And that’s why Dr. Hazzouri suggests giving individual attention to each child.
“I have a date with this one or I have movie night with this one tonight and they get individual attention. I think that’s really important,” Dr. Hazzouri said.
When the situation between siblings becomes tense or tough to control, Dr. Hazzouri says it’s a good idea to get them outside and burn off some energy.
“Getting kids away from each other, having them do sperate activities until they cool down. It has nothing to do with the other person or what they’re arguing about,” Dr. Hazzouri said.
There are ways to prevent sibling rivalry: Stay calm, try not to yell, pay attention to what kids are doing so you can intervene when necessary, create a cooperative environment, celebrate individuality, plan fun family time like game night or movie night, and treat kids fairly, not equally.
All tips the Elgonitis family will surely follow. And when siblings name-call or treat the other rudely, Dr. Hazzouri suggests treating the behavior by calling them out on it and reminding them that behavior won’t be tolerated. Enforce consequences.
And she says it’s when kids start to see their parents as people they start to view their siblings as separate from them.
“I think sometimes sibling rivalry is healthy that they’re trying to individuate and find themselves, figure out who I am separate from him or her but also trying to get attention from their parents,” Dr. Hazzouri said.
When siblings treat each other rudely, Dr. Hazzouri suggests parents enforce consequences. She says usually around sophomore year in high school is when squabbles start to ease up as that’s when kids start to view their siblings as separate from them.