Parenting can be a struggle for those dealing with one or more children. The pandemic added more challenges to parenting, such as constantly dealing with children during the lockdown, working from home, all causing some friction in the household. Siblings may constantly be in each other’s space and there are bound to be some issues.

Sibling rivalry is normal. It is normal to bicker and parents will encounter the occasional (even daily!) argument or disagreement between their children. Birth order and age gap can also play a role on how children interact with their siblings. Older siblings tend to be more possessive with their space and things, such as toys, sitting areas, favourite chair, etc. The middle child can feel that they are not understood by their family members and the youngest is often treated as the baby of the family; however, should there be a large age gap between children, say five years or more, confrontation and sibling rivalry will manifest in other forms, usually implied by siblings competing for their parents’ affections based on comparison.

Here are some tips on how parents can alleviate tensions brought on by sibling rivalry.

When siblings do get into a disagreement, let them sort it out by themselves by discussing the problem on hand. Conflict-resolution allows children to grow up with an important skill-set of figuring out solutions to their problems through discussions or compromises. Problem-solving will help children grow into well-rounded adults who have no problem making decisions or handling life’s hurdles.

Do not Play Favourites!
As parents, we can sometimes bestow our affections more often on the younger sibling because they are the baby of the family. Parents do love all their children unconditionally but may stop showering the older children with affection as they once did when they were younger. Some children feel jealous or event resentful towards their brother or sister when their parents give them attention and leave them out. As parents, we can take time to foster our relationships with our children by focusing one-on-one time with them. For example, read a book with your youngest child at night and play chess or a board game alone with your eldest. Have conversations with your kids that don’t involve parenting, such as talking about homework. It is all about quality time with your kids.

Give them their Space (Literally)
When siblings have a disagreement, allow them to vent. Do not intervene. Let them go to their room and be alone for a minute or two or let them cry it out. Frustrations will build, but it is important for a child to call their own space, such as their reading nook or even their bedroom. If siblings share a room, allow the upset sibling to go to their room alone to deal with their emotions. Once composed, they will come out and discuss the matter with a parent or with their sibling without confrontation. Providing your children with their own space to think and reflect will allow everyone to live more harmoniously.