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DateLine Sunday, 11 May 2008

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Sibling Rivalry

“Do you love me or her more?” asked my sister from our mother. “I love you both” answered mother. “But I don’t understand why you treat her better than me?” she replied. For centuries, sibling rivalry has been one of more popular battles of the human race.

While many kids are the best of friends with their siblings, it is very common for most of them to fight. Another funny aspect is that it can also be a love-hate relationship between siblings.

You can’t identify when sibling rivalry happens or how it can come about but the signs can be everything from not talking to each other to physically abusing which is commonplace in Sri Lanka.

The first moment of sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, continuing till the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. By growing up and when children reach different stages of development, their needs also can affect how they relate to one another.

Often when one child is intelligently gifted more than the other is also another reason for siblings to be jealous of one another.A difficult instance is when you watch and hear your children fight with one another over petty things. It can be difficult to know how to stop the fighting, and whether you should get involved at all.

Physical abuse is long gone these days when child abuse is against the law, however anger should be kept to a minimum and more talking and understanding is necessary in taking prompt action before severe occurrences surface.

Royal princes Harry and William have never come out into the open about whether there is sibling rivalry between the two and most of the time, the British media goes on to highlight their behaviour rather than their differences, even though it has been pretty obvious.

They are said to be ‘emotionally close’ but while William remains the humble and calm figure with many a burden to shoulder, Harry has always been a rebel bad-boy with the recent fact that he was fighting in Afghanistan.

When sibling rivalry takes place, separate the kids until they’re calm and it is good to give them some time to relax and make sure you don’t figure out which child is to blame.

Fighting is itself a fault and they should both accept the fault and forgive and forget. Try to set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains. If they both want a toy, maybe there is a game where they can play together.

Important values like respecting another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate, and how to control aggressive impulses are life’s learning that your child will carry on later in life. Help your kids get along by setting rules for acceptable behaviour.

Guide your kids that there should be no swearing, no cursing, no name-calling, no yelling and especially no slamming of doors.

Make sure your kids are responsible for their own actions, and don’t let kids make you think that everything always has to be “fair” and “equal” - sometimes one kid needs more than the other. Offer other options and solutions to guide your children in the right path.

Remembering that love is the most important thing in a child’s life and that family togetherness counts for that. Ease your child’s mind by adopting suitable hobbies they can indulge in and bring them closer together with advice, love and support.

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