“Give it to me!” “I hate you!” “That’s mine!” “You suck!” Well, these are things you definitely don’t want to hear your kids say to one another.
Whether they are toddlers or teens, the name-calling, bickering, and immature behavior will likely happen at some point between your children. Unfortunately, there is no way to escape the dreaded “sibling rivalry” phase. And as a parent it can be pretty painful to stomach.
But don’t fret, because it’s natural (and healthy).
From tattling to jealousy, siblings go through periods of competition as they compete for parents’ love and respect, according to experts at the Mayo clinic. And apparently moderate levels of rivalry are a healthy sign — it means each child is able to express his or her need and wants.
While younger children tend to fight physically, older kids lean towards verbal arguments. I have definitely witnessed my share of pinching and hitting between my daughters, ages 2 and 4.
So, what’s the best way to manage these temporary familial explosions?
In this week’s video, Willie and I share ideas to deal with tackle sharing and tattling, as well as envy between teenagers. But sibling rivalry goes beyond those three issues, so here are 8 more tips (I've compiled them "Cliffs Notes"-style!), courtesy of the Mayo Clinic website.
1. Respect each child’s unique needs. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to addressing their needs so embrace and celebrate their individuality.
2. Avoid comparison. NO child is the same (even twins)! You probably didn’t like it when your parents compared you, so don't compare your kids.
3. Set the ground rules. At an early age, define what’s appropriate and inappropriate behavior and reinforce it as they get older.
4. Don’t get involved in battles. Basically let them work it out (unless it gets physical).
5. Anticipate problems. You know your kids and you know their tipping point.
6. Listen to your children. We all like to vent, so let them tell you tell you the good, the bad, the ugly about their sibling. Let them get it all out!
7. Encourage good behavior. This needs no explanation!
8. Show your love. Hugs and kisses are always welcome! You can’t go wrong saying how proud you are of your child.
If you have a sibling, you probably dealt with sibling rivalry. Do you have any great advice on how to deal with it? Any topics you'd like us to cover in the future? Parental Guidance, TODAY.com's original video series, want to hear all about it. Please tell us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ParentalGuidance: @megancolarossi, @williegeist, @today_parents.