Of course you want to keep the peace in your house by curbing sibling rivalries. The only problem is that you either may not know how to do this or you may have run out of patience. The truth of the matter is that it is never too late to mend relationships and as a parent it is your responsibility to help your children to learn the skills necessary to get along with others and to solve their own problems.
Try not to be the source of the rivalry
Support your children in their interests. Make sure that you are an active participant in the interests and hobbies of all of your children. It is easy enough to attend scheduled sporting events or concerts, but what if your child enjoys sewing or building with blocks? Make sure that you devote time to these less structured interests as well. Never compare your children to each other. If you say something like “My daughter is very athletic and my son is very smart,” all that the daughter may hear is that she is not smart and all that the son may hear is that he is not athletic. One of the worst things that you can do is to put one child up on a pedestal while reprimanding the other by saying something like, “I wish you were more like your sister.” Your children need to feel good, wanted and valuable in the eyes of their parents. If they do not they may re-direct that anger on the sibling that they feel gets more positive attention.
Equal and fair aren’t always the same thing
Did your parents ever tell you that “life isn’t fair” when you complained about something not going your way? If they did it does not mean that they were bad parents, it simply provides a good example of how children are often go through life never really understanding that it is possible to solve problems and have things that are unequal be fair. When something is fair a lot of factors are taken into consideration. Take for example a bedtime hour. Your twelve year old may be able to stay up later than your 6 year old. To the six year old this treatment is not equal because the bedtimes are different, but to the parents it is fair that as a child gets older and has more responsibilities they also have more privileges. When your six year old reaches the age of twelve chances are that their bedtime will be later as well. Explaining to your child why something may not be equal but it can still be fair, will help them in diverting anger for their sibling which they may perceive negatively and will aid in understanding that there will be differences but that those difference make sense and the same opportunities will be made available to all members of the family.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder
If you have two siblings who are having difficulty getting along, sometimes creating physical distance between them can create a world of difference. The idea between minimizing the times that these sibling cross paths is not to have them avoid all contact with each other, but rather a tool that can help parents to minimize negative interactions in order to maximize the positive interactions. If you are not able to give each child a separate room (even if it means sharing a room with another sibling), than work on giving them separate homework stations or at least beds of their own that are off limits to anyone else. Children need to feel like they have a safe haven where they can go to gather their thoughts and be alone. When siblings are so close in age and space it becomes difficult for them to feel like an individual and this is often the root of many sibling disputes.