Unfortunately for you, the answer is: nothing. Your kids aren’t really concerned about getting along. They are selfish little buggers and that is okay because they are kids, after all. Here are a few things to remember when it feels like sibling rivalry is beginning to take over your life.
Kids Will be Kids
Kids will fight and argue. They have yet to completely develop the areas of their brain that help them empathize or ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ as they say. They will develop this skill as they grow but until then, settle in for a bumpy ride.
Life Isn’t Fair
This is the mantra you repeat to your children over and over. Each time they come running to complain that big brother is allowed to stay up later or little sister gets to sit in the shopping cart, you need to remember that life isn’t fair for you either and your kids are going to complain about all the silly things that upset them. Take your own advice and listen to their complaints as you expect them to listen to each other. No one told you parenting was going to include refereeing but then again, life isn’t fair, is it?
You Were a Kid Once, Too
At least I hope so. Think back, way back, to when you had little control over anything in your life. How did it make you feel? You naturally get upset when you have little say over your day, so when a sibling decides it is there birthright to agitate another at every turn, that child might snap, just a little. Don’t set the bar so high that they believe you never acted irrationally before. Kids need to know that it is okay to fall apart now and then so share a story of when you did just that.
Sharing is Hard
Do you want to share your coffee? Your bacon? Your cake?! Of course not. Sharing is hard for adults, so if your little ones struggle with it, it is perfectly okay. They will cry and whine and scream when a sibling reaches for whatever they consider their ‘prize’ and you’ll need to manage it. There is no secret fix for this.
Selfish is Normal
Or at the very least, selfish is natural. You need to learn to ride the wave. You cannot raise little selfless creatures and making the attempt is not fair to you or to them.
Fighting is Cathartic
How would you feel if every time you got amped up about something you were forced to ‘cool it’ and then apologize? Sometimes we need to get angry and experience all of those emotions that come along with that. Don’t deny your kids the learning experience of arguing and finding a resolution on their own. It is a life skill that will serve them well.
Maybe you thought when you read this I would be giving you tips to stop sibling rivalry in your home. I am afraid I have to be far more realistic than that. Maybe a title like: “5 Ways to End Sibling Rivalry” would have gotten more clicks, but the reality is, this is a completely natural part of growing up and you’ll need understand this so you can cope going forward.