HOW TO DEAL WITH SIBLING RIVALRY:

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1. Allow for Expression of Feelings:

Insisting on good feelings between the children leads to bad feelings.

Allowing for bad feelings leads to good feelings.

Why?  Because children are naturally high in emotional intelligence.  It is the nature of intelligence to refuse to be compelled.  When you require your children to deny their feelings or insist on only good feelings they will rebel.

2. Don't Compare the Children:

DON'T bring up good things about child A to child B.

DON'T bring up bad things about child A to child B.

Make compliments directly to the child affected: "I'm so proud of you for getting that award," or "You must be very proud of yourself to have gotten 95% on your test."

Describe what you see and feel: "I love to see your awards," or "I'm so happy to see this test," or "It makes me feel really good to hear Mrs. Smith say how quiet you were in class yesterday," etc.

Describe what needs to be done (don't command, order, or compel--why? see above): "I need you to pick up those clothes and put them in this basket," or "I need you to focus on your homework," or "I really need it quiet in here," etc.

3. Don't treat them equally--treat them uniquely:

Treat each child according to his/her needs.  Help them discover their unique talents and strengths and  help them develop those abilities.

It's okay to give identical items in certain circumstances, like when they both like or need the same thing.

Instead of giving equal amounts give according to individual need (bigger kids should get more food, older kids need different school supplies, etc.)

Instead of showing equal love show the child he or she is loved uniquely ("You're special to me because you're so good at art," or "I love the way you laugh," or "You're the only person I know who can do somersaults that well," or "You and Ryan are very different and I love that about you.  You're you, and he's Ryan, and you're both special."

It's okay to FEEL favoritism, but don't SHOW it.  It's natural for a parent to be drawn to a certain child, but don't single out that child for special treatment, lavish praise on that child and not another, or give privileges to that child and not another. Don't exclude, ignore, pass over, or fail to acknowledge the less-favored child.  Also, you can transfer the special affection you feel for one child to another child by allowing those special feelings to surface, then picture the less-favored child and remember his/her accomplishments, uniqueness, and how much he needs you.  You're the only Mom/Dad he/she has.

Instead of giving equal time, give time according to need.

Don't force them into "roles."  If one is always quiet and shy, don't acknowledge it in front of them or the child will acquire that label, or if one is always clumsy ignore it so you don't reinforce that tendency.

Never give attention to the aggressor, ALWAYS to the victim.  Give consequences to the aggressor after you have given the victim your attention.

DOES ALL THIS SEEM REALLY TOUGH TO DO?  Good!  You're right! -- Because being a parent is the most challenging and difficult thing you will ever do, but it is also the most rewarding!

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