We all know that our children will most likely experience some level of sibling rivalry during their childhood. Can you create an environment, and solutions at home that will positively support your children as they face potential sibling rivalry?
Here are some tips that will help you assist your children.
Family life as a co-parent:
Creating a supportive environment for your children as a divorced parent can be a challenge, especially if you are co-parenting with an ex-spouse who is not cooperative or supportive. Keep doing your best to create a supportive, happy home life for your children. Your home is their peaceful place after busy school days, outside responsibilities, extracurricular activities. By the time your children are in their middle childhood years they will be spending significantly less time with you at home. However, you continue to be a major influence in their lives. They see you as the one who provides them with constant assistance, advice and unconditional support. Keep being there for them!
Sibling rivalry and co-parenting:
Siblings have a big influence on children during their middle childhood years. Their influence can be good, or it can be bad. Brothers and sisters can be a source of real strife, or great support, companionship and friendship. Work with your ex-spouse, and agree on positive ways to create a consistent, supportive environment for your children, if possible. Consider setting up a mutual behavior contract that includes fair consequences for any negative sibling rivalry, and positive reinforcement for good behavior you observe between siblings.
Reasons for sibling rivalry between our children:
Sibling rivalry can occur in any home. Siblings can quarrel and compete with each other, and fight for attention from you as their parent. It can be most intense when your children are similar in age. Middle childhood aged children may not be able to self-regulate, or control their emotions very well yet. Be aware that as parents we can intensify their sibling rivalry by being perceived as favoring one child over the other. Do your best to be fair to each of your children; they notice everything!
Setting up a behavior contract for your children:
Set up a behavior contract for your children to follow which includes fair consequences for negative behavior or sibling rivalry, and positive reinforcement for good behavior. Setting it up with your ex-spouse would be ideal, but may not be possible. Choose two or three clear rules for your children to follow. I would suggest sitting down with your children to choose the rules and consequences together. They should have a voice, and be involved in this important process.
Children love to have structure in their lives. This contract should include consistent consequences for their behavior as a family member. Follow through with the consequences consistently for the sake of your children. Your home will become a more peaceful place.
Trying your best to be a divorced, single, co-parent is not easy. In many cases you are carrying the responsibility of two parents by yourself. Be aware that your children may be experiencing sibling rivalry. Creating a positive home environment for them should be the highest priority. One way to ensure maintaining peace in your home is to create a realistic behavior contract for your children to follow. As you consistently following through with the consequences you all agreed to, your home will become your family's peaceful place. You will observe an increase in mutual respect between your children. Remember, someday they will thank you!