Child 1: Mom . . . (insert sibligs name here) just hit me.
Child 2: No I didn’t . . . I just gave him a high five and hit his face.
As a mother of four (each fifteen months apart), I am outnumbered on so many levels. The fact of the matter is there is no easy task when it comes to parenting one child. Once you have developed a routine and get into a great flow . . . things change and you find yourself caught in another current. They said it would get easier as my children got older (and in some ways it has), but with every changing season comes highs and lows.
It all started when they were younger, arguing over who would get to play with the toy first and for how long. Then it graduated to who would get control over the TV as they raced for the remote. Now, it’s calling “shotgun” for the front seat with dibs on being the DJ for the car ride.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sibling rivalry as the “competition between siblings especially for the attention, affection, and approval of their parents.” Truth is, every parent of multiples will have to deal with this at one point or another. For some of us, these situations are all to familiar and for others they are examples of what is to come. So here are some ways our family has chosen to fight these battles.
1. Create Family Values
When Darius and I were building our family, we created values that would help govern how we treat one another and others. They are focus points that help us create environments where everyone feels loved, heard, and accepted. They can be as simple as, “In this family we have fun together” or as complex as the golden rule, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” The purpose is to guide our family in the direction we want it to go.
2 Discover and Cultivate Purpose
Everything in life we get to choose, but not our family. Which means there is a purpose and reason we were specifically put together. Find and foster everyone’s purpose. Each member of our family is unique and gifted in their own way. We love discovering those things about one another—whether through personality assessments or a fun game to learn what makes each other tick.
3 Encourage Cooperation: Each One Helps One
In a world that is “me” focused, it is hard sometimes to think about others. However, empathy is something we strive to keep in front of not only our kids, but also ourselves as parents. Teaching our kids to create the capacity to understand and feel what others may be experiencing has been huge for our family. It limits the teasing and name-calling amongst our kids when someone does something wrong. Also, it helps me think twice before chastising them in public, causing embarrassment and shame. Instead, we choose to help one another where we are weak and encourage each other where we are strong.
These are just a few ways our family has chosen to fight sibling rivalry and help our kids get along. I would love to hear some of the tools in your families arsenal as well.