When you imagined life with a second child, you probably had this idyllic vision of your kids playing in harmony and instantly becoming built-in besties. They’re siblings, after all, so they must have a lot in common, right?
Uh… yeah, well… Not always. Having two or more kids can abruptly turn your life into a crapstorm of “MOM HE’S TOUCHING ME!”, more biting than one would think, and a lot of crying. (Like, SO much crying) But, of course, there are moments of sibling love that will cause your heart to swell and make all of the madness seem totally worth it.
Anyways, here are our best tips for dealing with siblings who kinda hate each other:
Don’t Strive for Equality
Yup, you read that right. With differences in age, talents, and interests come differences in how kids should be treated. Instead of striving for equality, treat your children as individuals. Let them know that you’ll try your hardest to be fair and that that’s the best you can do.
Tattling can create an aura of competition amongst siblings. When your son runs to tell you that his little sister is pulling books off of the coffee table, tell him that you’re not interested in hearing about what his sibling is up to. If he wants to tell you what he’s doing, though, you’re all ears.
Listen More than You Talk
It’s so easy to lecture, yell, and scold kids into oblivion; especially when they’re pissing you off. But kids who feel as though their concerns are heard are more likely to be good listeners themselves. And don’t we all just really want our kids to listen?
Don’t Play Referee
Unless one of your kiddos is being a total bully, try not to take sides in sibling squabbles. Deciding who the antagonist is and acting preferentially can make one child feel slighted. Instead, make it evident that fighting isn’t tolerated and that both children will face consequences for their actions.
Give it Space
We all know that when tensions are high, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Separating kids when they’re fighting and encouraging some quiet time to cool down can save a lot of tears and is a great way to practice emotional regulation.
Encourage Family Togetherness
Keep it positive! Remind your kids that families are meant to support and love one another, no matter what. Talk to them about what friendship means, and focus on having your children help each other out with everyday tasks. Try to enforce the sense of, “We have to take care of each other, we’re a family here!”