Sibling Rivalry and sibling jealousy are a natural part of family life, particularly when children are close in age. Throw into the mix siblings competing in the same sports or participating in the same activities, and the result is going to be an even stronger propensity for sibling rivalry. What many parents don’t realize, though, is that they have the ability to influence the amount of jealousy their children feel toward each other simply through their own words and actions.
Parents inadvertently have a tendency to make comparisons between their children. It’s just a fact of life, especially when children are involved in the same activities. Parents notice if one child seems more talented, is a better sport, or plays with more enthusiasm than her sibling. How could they not? However, they should avoid verbalizing those comparisons, even when they think their kids aren’t paying attention. Kids are already comparing themselves with their siblings every day, so even the slightest mention can solidify insecurities they might be feeling about not being asgood as their brother or sister. Parents should never say words that set one child as the standard, such as, “Someday you’ll be as good a pitcher as your brother,” because it can set unrealistic expectations and foster sibling jealousy.
Parents also hold power over sibling rivalry in the way they act toward each of their children. Treating all activities equally and not giving more weight to one child’s over another’s is key. Make it a point to attend as many events as possible, and take turns attending games if they are held at the same time. Encourage both children equally, and offer the same amount of time helping each with his or her activities. Even though one might be more competitive and athletic than the other, it’s important to allow the other child to enjoy the sport as well if they so choose. And do your best to spend the same amount of money (as far as the children can tell) on each of your kids’ activities.
And last but not least in the fight against sibling rivalry is to never allow others to compare your children either. For example, if one child is better at baseball, don’t allow family and friends to only come see the better child play. Have a strict “no labeling” policy amongst your family and friends to prevent anyone else from using labels to pigeonhole your children into roles that he or she may not want to be in.
Always remember that your children have unique personalities and abilities. Encourage their individual talents, and show them through actions, as well as words, that you think of them as equals, no matter what their skill level.