Children always want to know they are special and feel they are held in high esteem. They are just the same as us adults; we need to know we are appreciated and significant no matter how old we are. If their need to know they have a special place in life and that they are significant isn’t met they will often compete with their siblings. This competition is all to be noticed and appreciated.
To a degree this is normal behaviour, the family is where we learn how to appreciate others while still being in a place of significance ourselves. All children at some stage, if they have siblings, have to go through the journey of learning that they are special while their siblings are also special. It’s a journey that we can help them navigate well, or we can set them up for a lifelong rivalry with their siblings.
It is a very natural thing for children to walk through, it’s when it becomes an unhealthy thought pattern that it becomes a problem.
Please don’t freak out when you see signs of this starting in your home, it is normal however you can guide them to a very healthy perspective and understanding. They can learn from you how to know they are loved by you and that you have enough love to go around. Through this, everyone knows they are loved equally.
If, as parents, we are sure we are giving each child our full attention, if we are praising each one for who they are, yet it seems that rivalry is occurring, we need to look at what makes them feel significant and valued. Everyone has different buttons to press, and our personalities and love languages come into play here very much. Questions we should ask ourselves are: Do you know what makes your child as an individual feel significant? Do you know their love language? Did you even know they had a love language?
Do you know what makes your child as an individual feel significant? Do you know their love language? Did you even know they had a love language?
Do you know their love language? Did you even know they had a love language?
Did you even know they had a love language?
Regarding love languages, there are five different love languages; there is a book that I highly recommend called “The Five Love Languages of Children.” Written by Gary Chapman, this book is one that I would suggest for every parent.
We are all built differently with different needs. In a nutshell, the book explains how we need to take the time to come down to their level. We need to ask probing questions and find out what they love doing. Then, we need to spend time doing it with them, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Through this, you may find yourself in a pillow fight with little ones, playing with play dough or even painting. You may find this silly or even time consuming. DO IT REGARDLESS.
Top Tip for Establishing Healthy Sibling Relationships:
> Take them out in turns one at a time to do whatever they choose even if it doesn’t interest you. The same works if you take them to something that is special to you. Perhaps it’s the Footy with Dad or an Art Gallery with mum. Get them involved in your world. It doesn’t matter what you do, just be mindful to remain patient as you may want to question their concentration and involvement. Be confident and know that whatever you are doing, will make them feel so special.
> It is important to show them that family means team and these outings help establish this further. Additionally, these times spent together will enhance your relationships with your children as they grow into their adult life.
Rob has done a great job taking our boys to the Footy as little ones. It took a lot of patience and sometimes meant he had to leave early or be interrupted to take them to the toilet, however, he is reaping the rewards now. Our adult boys still go with him sometimes and take their sons or daughters with them. He has managed to brainwash most to be Roosters supporters, but Ben loves his Parramatta team. The little ones often chant the Roosters chant and wear the colours that Pa has bought them, they are so cute.
> Help them celebrate each others successes. Create nights whereby you give each one a special night where the whole family celebrates one member of the family and make sure you set the date for the next child so they know they will get a turn.
> Tell your children what you as a parent appreciate about them, what qualities they have that made them special to you.
Don’t just talk about what they do that is special about them, also talk about who they are that makes them special.
Important to remember, sibling rivalry is also a part of learning social skills. There promises to be some sibling rivalry as they grow up, however as they learn how as individuals they are special to you, they will grow out of it and start to appreciate each other.
It is one of the true joys of a parent for Rob and me to watch our adult children and their spouses encourage each other, help each other and get excited about the other one’s successes. Make sure you value each one for who they are and tell them often, if you do this, I am sure they will grow out of any rivalry and learn to appreciate each other.
Make the investment and you and your children will reap the rewards.