How do we stop sibling rivalry?
As parents, it’s hard for us to prevent siblings from having an argument or a heated discussion but when it gets out of hand, it can snowball into rivalry and jealousy that might go well into adulthood.
Sibling rivalry was probably the last thing on your mind when you decided to have multiple children. You probably were more excited to give your child a playmate, but if all you see them doing is whine and complaint about each other, here’s what you CAN do.
STEP 1: Unhealthy Competition
Do not pitch your children against each other.
Yes, it’s good to have a bit of banter and push your children to succeed but do not end up praising one child while demeaning the other one. Don’t talk proudly about one child while bringing down the other one. When you raise the status of one child more than the other, it can easily lead to unhealthy competition between siblings, resulting in insecurities and low self-esteem issues.
Nu’maan ibn Basheer (RA) said: “My father gave me a gift of some of his wealth, but my mother, ‘Amrah bint Rawaahah, said, ‘I will not approve of it until you ask the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to bear witness to it.’
So my father went to the Prophet (ﷺ) to ask him to bear witness to the gift. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to him, ‘Have you done the same for all of your children?’
He said, ‘No.’ He said,
‘Fear Allah and treat your children justly.’
So my father came back and took back that gift.” (Bukhaari, Muslim)
STEP 2: Let them figure it out
As parents, when we see our children fight or have negative thoughts about each other, we might feel the urge to step in and solve the issue. However, try allowing your children to resolve the matter by themselves.
Giving your children the space to figure out who is wrong or how to get over a misunderstanding is an excellent way to help them master problem solving techniques and strategies.
By doing so, they will focus their energy and time in solving an issue, instead of allowing it to snowball.
STEP 3: Be the shepherd – teach healthy conflict resolution
What do you do when you have a conflict with another family member? Do you try to solve the issue at hand or blame the other person? How you react in a negative situation is almost exactly how your child reacts too, because they learn social skills from observing us, adults.
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them…” (Bukhari)
Encourage them to use “I feel” statements instead of blaming their siblings when things don’t go as they plan. Encourage them to listen to each other instead or belittling their siblings feelings. Doing so will help them develop amazing conflict resolution strategies.
STEP 4: Wudhu to calm down
When things gets heated and go out of hand, teach your children a few calming strategies that they can quickly rely upon. Deep breathing, journaling, doing wudhu or just walking out of the room are great methods to calm their nerves and help them slow down.
Anger is mostly from Shaitan, and doing wudhu quickly dissolves the rage brewing in people’s hearts.
‘Atiyyah(RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Verily, anger comes from Satan and Satan was created from fire. Fire is extinguished with water, so if you become angry then perform ablution with water.” [Abi Dawood]
Be very clear in reminding them that screaming, hitting each other, calling names, or getting physical will not be tolerated in the house. Separate the children and send them to different rooms if needed. This will help ease the tension at home.
Sibling rivalry is common and affects families around the world. No matter what you do or don’t do, there is going to be some kind of conflict between children. However, helping them learn to solve their differences and respect each other’s opinions will go a long way in raising emotionally healthy children who look out for each other’s well-being.