Do your kids have an unofficial rivalry or competition that you think is unhealthy? Want your kids to focus more on their own progress without feeling like it’s a competition? Here are a few helpful tips you can use to help put the Will also discuss some ways that we, as parents, might contribute to this unhealthy type of environment by constantly comparing them and how we can stop.
Anyone who has raised siblings or who has a sibling of their own can tell you that sibling rivalry is a very real thing. It can range from feelings of jealousy or animosity, conscious or subconscious competition, and even fighting.
The sibling rivalry can be even more intense when kids are close in age as opposed to being far apart in age when they are of the same gender, It can also be an issue when one or both/all of the children are intellectually gifted.
Homeschooling is no exception to this. In fact, it can often be worse among homeschool families because the children tend to spend a LOT more time with each other than children who have some degree of separation during public school hours.
While sibling rivalry can be mild and harmless in other situations, sometimes it can escalate and can cause lasting damage to sibling (and other familial) relationships.
So, what can we do to try to handle sibling rivalry in a healthy manner? Here are a few tips:
Don’t Play Favorites
Sometimes it is easy to forget that kids have feelings and senses that are as acute as an adult. Maybe even more so. This means that they can pick up on differences in parental treatment. For example, they may notice if you provide a lot of positive feedback for one child while another child mostly receives negative feedback. Or if you spend different amounts of time with each child. Research shows that when children pick up on this type of differential treatment (whether it is subtle or overt), they can act out. Make a conscious effort to treat each child equally. Focus more on positive feedback overall rather than relying on negative feedback to address problematic behavior. And make an effort to spend equal amounts of time with each child, both as a group and as individuals.
Affirm and Encourage Each Child’s Strengths and Interests
Another way to lessen sibling rivalry is to actively affirm and encourage each child’s strengths as well as their interests. Let each child know that you see them as individuals with their own strengths, interests, and passions. By letting them know that you acknowledge and support their individuality, you are giving each child permission to be who they are, rather than competing with their sibling(s).
Create Opportunities for Collaboration
Give your kids opportunities to work together on a project – whether it’s for school or just around the house. Having these collaborative projects gives them a chance to showcase their strengths and use them to solve a problem as a team. It can help them to realize that they both (or all) are good at something and that what they are good at has some value.
Encourage Open Communication
Last, but not least, encourage your children to talk openly – to you and to each other. Teach them that the only way to be sure that others understand your point of view is to tell them. Encourage them to be upfront about how they are feeling – whether it is positive or negative. It might even be helpful to host regular family chat sessions to give each child the opportunity to do this.
These are just a few ideas on how to handle sibling rivalry in your homeschool. Have a tip that worked for you? Let me know in the comments!