Sibling Rivalry: Coping Strategies
Now that school is out for the summer, your kids are spending a lot of time together. In my house, the first week or so of summer vacation is a time when the kids generally get along. After that, though, sibling rivalry, bickering, arguing and boredom set in. If left unchecked, the quarreling could make for a long summer! So, what can you do to combat sibling rivalry this summer? Here are some ideas to try:
- Keep them busy. I know that my kids start harassing one another when they’re bored. If they don’t have enough activities to do, send them outside to play. If mine don’t want to do that, I offer to give them some chores to keep them busy; I always have clean laundry that needs to be folded!
- Encourage fun together. During the school year and sports seasons, your kids might not see each other very often during the day. This is particularly true if they go to different schools. Come up with some ways for them to spend time having fun with each other. This could mean asking the older one to teach the younger one how to ride her bike, or challenging them to build an obstacle course together.
- Allow fun apart. One of the reasons for sibling squabbles during the summer is because they are suddenly expected to spend a lot of time together, when it’s not part of their routine. Let then make separate plans sometimes: send one to a friend’s house while you invite a friend over for your other child, or sign them up for separate activities. It’s more running around for you, but it will be less hassle in the long run.
- Expect to spend some time talking them through their disagreements. Do you remember how you had to coach them on what to say in order to settle fights when they were preschoolers? You might need to hold a few refresher classes with your school-aged kids.
- Know when to ignore it. Face it, sometimes kids argue just to get our attention. If there’s no name-calling or bullying, sometimes you can just grin and bare it. Is it annoying to listen to them arguing over whether indigo or blue is darker (this was actually a recent argument in my house)? Yes, but they’ll work it out (or get bored) eventually.
- Spend time with each child individually. This can be difficult when they’re home with you all day long, but make a special effort to take each one out for a little while every week. Knowing that they’ll have one-on-one time with you might take the edge off of their argumentative natures!
Sibling rivalry and arguing can happen at anytime, but it seems more prevalent when school is out. The good news is that most of the time, siblings grow up to get along even after the years of bickering through elementary and middle school.
Do you have any great tips for nipping sibling disagreements in the bud? Or is “let them work it out on their own” more your style?