Families often fall into patterns of behavior over the years, simply by living together and sharing the daily ups and downs that a routine life brings. While parents certainly want to be the best they can be to their children, unfortunately, unhealthy patterns of behavior can develop over time. While making the best effort to maintain the peace, happiness and serenity of the household, parents can inadvertently pit one child against another. This article will offer some questions to ask yourself if you suspect that you may have fallen into this negative pattern of behavior.
Do You Rely On One Child To Tell You Of A Sibling’s Negative Behavior?
Relying on one of the children to keep you informed of his or her sibling’s not so stellar behavior on a regular basis can be very destructive to not only your relationship with your child, but the relationship between the siblings. Children view this as tattling, and learn not to trust the sibling who takes on the role of the informer of the family. This is especially harmful if you regularly reward the child who is doing the informing. Set up parameters where sharing information is acceptable and encouraged, such as if the sibling is engaging in behavior that is potentially dangerous to either himself or another child, otherwise discourage the practice of tattling on one another.
Do You Lavish Praise On One Child In Front Of The Other?
One child may be a ray of sunshine, and one may be going through a stage where they are difficult and unpredictable. It is important to praise all the children of the home equally as much as humanly possible. While negative behavior should not be rewarded and unacceptable behavior should always have a consequence, it is important to highlight every child’s effort in completing tasks and fulfilling responsibilities. While the child who is pleasant, respectful and cheerful should surely be showered with praise and affection, the child who is having a bit of a more difficult time following the rules and showing the proper respect should also be praised for the effort put forth in schoolwork and chores, and also showered with affection. The effort to give the child going through a difficult stage more praise and affection, rather than less, may just help him or her to turn a corner and modify their behavior.
Do You Compare One Child Unfavorably To Another?
All children are unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses. It may be difficult to refrain from asking Joe why he can’t get outstanding grades like Jill, or why John can’t hit a home run like Tom, but it is vitally important that each child is appreciated and praised for their own unique skill set and talents. Comparing one child to a sibling not only doesn’t motivate the child to perform or behave on a higher level, it sets the stage for great resentment towards both the parents and the sibling.
Pitting one child against another in the home can have far reaching consequences that affect all the relationships int he family. Making a conscious effort to stop this behavior may just result in a more harmonious household, and stronger bonds between all members of the family.