Sibling rivalry is something that a lot of parents have to deal with, whether you have small children or adult children. When you have more than one child it is just a matter of time before sibling rivalry occurs where children will try to dominate each other for love and toys. If you have toddlers, this sibling rivalry can become aggressive and ultimately lead to fighting and violent behavior. As a parent you need to be aware of the sibling rivalry and know what steps you can take to address the situation appropriately. The most unique aspect of sibling rivalry is that each child will want their own stuff and their own time with their mom and dad or the toddlers will probably become aggressive. Here are four easy tips to help you cope as a parent with this sibling rivalry.
1. The first thing you want to do if you have toddlers is to give them their own areas where they can play with their own toys. Toddlers will often not want to share toys with their sibling and require an area of the house that they can play alone. You do not want to force your toddlers to play with the same toys or share all of the time because this can cause them to fight or become aggressive with each other. Buy each toddler some of their own toys that they can play with in their own room or in separate areas of the house. Each toddler should have a special place they can go to play with their own toys alone without being bothered by their sibling.
2. Always show each of your children affection individually or else they might become aggressive and try to fight for your attention. Trying to get love and attention from a parent is a huge part of sibling rivalry and often a child will feel left out or like you are playing favorites. Having a toddler sibling rivalry escalates the attention-seeking behavior because both children will feel like they deserve all of your attention. Always make sure to treat each toddler the same and give special attention to each child individually. If you seem to latch onto one child more than the other then it could cause a lot of problems between the two toddlers and the family later on in life. Devote a special time for each toddler, maybe playing a game of their choice while the other toddler does something on their own. It is important that you remember to divide your time in between both of them individually rather than as a group because a toddler needs specialized attention.
3. If both of your toddlers want to play with the same toy then it is important you try to diffuse the situation by creating a group game. If both toddlers want to play with the same toy then it will create an aggressive situation where name-calling or biting could occur so you want to think of alternative options for your children. If they both want the same toy then you can suggest playing a game together such as a card game or a board game so that both children are included. It is important that the toddlers realize they can not both play with the same toy and that sometimes a group game is better for them both. You might also suggest that one child take the toy for an hour and then the other child could get the toy for an hour afterward, so that each child gets a turn with the toy. You want to make it seem like both toddlers are in a win-win situation so that things remain fair.
4. Sibling rivalry among toddlers can also become aggressive to the point of biting or hitting and this is where you need to step in and lay the ground rules. Let both children know that such actions will not be tolerated and there will be punishment for hitting, biting or other misbehavior that results in injury to their sibling. Once those ground rules are down for both toddlers, you should do your best at enforcing these rules. If you see something like one toddler hitting the other then you should separate them both for 15 minutes. Let the children go into separate rooms and talk with each toddler individually to figure out what happened. Once you know who then started the aggressive situation, you should punish them according to the rules you put into place. You could also use that situation as a learning experience for both children once they have calmed down and talk to them about why arguing or hitting is not the answer. Make sure that both toddlers know where you stand when it comes to violence or acting in a negative manner. Give your toddler tips about what to do when they are in the stressful situation such as going outside to play to cool down or sitting down on the couch and counting to ten. It is important that you have a punishment plan in place and that each toddler know the rules when it comes to handling their differences.
These are just some of the important tips when it comes to coping with a sibling rivalry. As a parent it is your responsibility to help your toddlers learn the appropriate ways to handle their problems and differences in a responsible and respectful manner. When you see one toddler hurting the other then you should step in but try to let them work things out for themselves if possible. The basic solutions to sibling rivalry are to always show each toddler the same affection and attention and to help the siblings through their hard times. Never show too much frustration or anger with either toddler because that will always make the situation worse, if you need to go somewhere to calm down then that is what you should do. Coping with sibling rivalry is something most parents have to do throughout their life but coping with toddler sibling rivalry requires more patience and calmness. If you can not cope with the toddler sibling rivalry on your own it is important to remember that there is help out there and you should contact a medical professional if necessary.