I came across this article on Facebook: Sibling bullying increases depression risk. In a nutshell, it reports that there was more depression seen amongst children who were constantly bullied by their siblings. The article reports this was more frequent in girls who were bullied by their older brothers.
While I am always skeptical about qualitative research like this that evaluates things from a questionnaire and links adult behavior to childhood experiences without really evaluating the factors in between, and does not have clear controls, it does not dismiss the importance of teaching your children to be kind to one another. It really made me think about this issue.
I think fighting amongst siblings is readily accepted, and quite frankly, within a reasonable limit, it really is a part of growing up and learning to coexist with others.
But to be aware of your children and make sure that they are not constantly upsetting each other and causing angst is important. If you as a parent allow it to continue, it becomes a bad habit and accepted trend that can possibly lead to a permanent rift amongst siblings.
So here are 3 ways to teach your children to get along:
1. Help Children Recognize Each Others’ Triggers and Avoid them
Knowing what makes your brother/sister ticked off can be a sibling’s strength. Siblings tend to know each other very well. But allowing them to use that to set each other off can be harmful. Help your children identify what can provoke arguments and fights. Then help teach them how to avoid these situations and not to react.
2. Enforce Repercussions for Bad Behavior
Being clear and persistent about consequences is important. Instilling rules and sticking to them is an important part of parenting. This is especially important when the children hit one another and/or physically or mentally harm each other. Taking away privileges or having time outs or toys taken away are some of the consequences that can be used.
3. Praise Good Behavior
Right on the opposite end of scolding for bad behavior and taking away privileges is making sure you praise good behavior and positively reinforce it when the kids are playing well and behaving properly. Making them aware of what is good and reinforcing it with a positive message, privilege, or prize is important.
Hope this helps and makes your lives and your children’s lives a little easier!
Wishing you all good health,