Childhood is a period of learning and growing. A period when mistakes are made, limitations are pushed and troubles are settled. These problems continue into adulthood, the only real difference is, once we are grownups people expect us to have learned some skills to cope with them.
Sibling Rivalry – Why Kids Fight
Whether we love it or not, our kids learn many of these skills from observing us. Once they find us lose our self-control to anger, or observe us smoothly work our way through a problem, they are taking the information in and filing it away for future use.
When our kids disagree we are being given a chance to really help them grow and learn. Sadly, most of us see these disagreements as an annoying issue and cope with it by shouting, intimidating or punishing them for their behaviour. When we accomplish this we are missing an excellent opportunity and also creating further issue.
The opposite extreme is when we see their fighting and write it off as normal or inevitable sibling behaviour.
This can work okay, if the kids are naturally born with a few skills, but if they are not (which is a lot more common) it can cause stress, anger, and bitterness on their part. Over time this can become harmful to their relationship with each other and with us.
Our goal when our kids argue is to see these disagreements in an effort to practice skill development. Whenever we accomplish this we remove the majority of the frustration and instead model the behaviours we would like them to learn. The wonderful side-effect of accomplishing this is that most of the minor arguments will disappear.
A later article will appear at strategies for working with the rivalry. This post is targeted at helping parents understand a few of the reasons behind the fights. When we know about why our children are fighting it becomes easier for all of us to keep our self-control.
Common reasons kids argue:
- To obtain attention
- They feel an injustice has been done
- They spend considerable time together
- The family is really a safe group to vent frustrations on
- Their social skills continue to be developing
- They may be tired, hot, hungry, stressed, grouchy or else bothered
- They are filled with energy and extremely take pleasure in the physical release
These factors are easy to understand and give perfect chances to perform some teaching. Basically we might feel frustrated that our child is really an “attention-hound”, it does tell us that giving him attention for this type of behaviour will not operate in our favor. Additionally, it informs us that if we can teach him other (more positive) methods for getting attention our time with him will be more enjoyable.
If he feels an injustice continues to be done, it provides us a chance to turn judgment into curiosity and maybe fix a misunderstanding. If our child craves physical outlets for his energy we may enroll him in recreational activity to assist him accomplish this. There is lots of helpful tips which comes from understanding why our kids will be going after one another. We simply have to understand what’s happening.
It is necessary when examining this list that we usually do not write off our kids’ behaviors as acceptable, just as they are understandable. An exhausted or hungry child, still has to control her behavior and a part of our responsibility is to help her realize that. As well, although the family is a secure place to vent, it is not okay to deal with people disrespectfully, even if it is your bothersome little sister.
There are some other reasons that children will fight which tend to be a little more serious in nature:
- Personality conflict
- To feel powerful
- They are envious of their sibling
- They have a chemical inequality which is disturbing their regular behavior
- The have discovered it is fun and therefore are becoming a intimidate
These factors tend to be more severe, and, left alone, can lead to damaging conditions. They are difficult to fix and can have very bad results if you do not. If you think you are working with issues from this grouping it can be useful to get the help of experts. Parent Educators, Social Workers or Family Centres are a couple of the places you might visit seek help.
If you are doubtful what the reason for your children’s fighting might be you have a few choices. You can find help to determine the main cause, or try a few of the generic tactics offered first. Then if the issue remains or becomes worse with time, go for help.
Whatever you choose to do, it is helpful to understand that siblings will have issues while they are getting bigger. This does not make them terrible or faulty and does not turn you into an awful parent. On the other hand these circumstances are gifts. There are chances to teach and exercise important, life-long techniques.
So basically we might not celebrate sibling rivalry… at the minimum ideally we can find there are several positives.