I get asked often about sibling rivalry from podcast listeners and to be honest, I've avoided the topic for a few reasons.
1) My kids fight like animals in a barn as if the loser is headed for the chophouse.
2) There's not much research backing up "techniques" to reduce sibling rivalry.
3) I think its a right of passage
I survived being the middle sister of three and remember some serious knock-down, drag-out, call the "popo" wars between us ladies! I'm surprised child services were never called in for mediation. My oldest sister once pulled my jeans off me just to have something to beat me with. I'm pretty sure it started with me chasing her with a kitchen knife though (so she says).
But, the fact is, I think siblings are meant to drive each other bat-shit mutha frickin' crazy to help develop interpersonal skills. Do you know an only child that turned out, okay? Kidding., but not really, LOL I know a few, but many of them would say they wished they had a sibling, In fact, I've heard some report, "I wish I'd had someone to fight with". The reason being that having someone life a sibling, a cousin, a roommate to fight with occasionally helps you learn what people like or don't like.
When kids fight at the playground, for example, many parents will rush in immediately when they sense a disagreement or discord and remove the child or the toy they're fighting over. This is the opposite of what we want. It's OKAY for kids to disagree and even fight. Now, if it turns physical, by all means, jump in, but otherwise, let the kids work it out. If your kid isn't sharing and calls the other child a "poopy face mcmuffin" or other really solid comeback, that's okay. In fact, if the Poopy Face McMuffin decides to bop your child on the top of the head, there's a lesson there. Your child will have learned that other kids don't like to be called names. It's high likely they also feel ashamed for calling their new friend a name because said friend no longer wishes to play with them and probably made off with the toy they both wanted anyway.
Contrarily, the kids start tugging at the toy and both parents intervene and say something profound like, "Lets all be kind" and robs the children of the opportunity to problem solve, practice self-control, or learn empathy when they have the chance to fight with another kid.
At home, this happens often between siblings because, as life would have it, we're not always around to intervene. Notice how fights always seem to break out went you're in the shower? That's the universe conspiring to help your kids develop the interpersonal skills they need without parental involvement.
So, sit back, have a glass of wine, read a magazine and let you kids duke it out! Ha ha!
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play