10 Steps To End Sibling Rivalry
I was recently invited to a very special “Young Governors” Luncheon hosted by Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The luncheon was one in a series created by the hospital to give it’s Board of Governors members an exclusive chance to meet first hand their doctors and some of the country’s most renowned experts in their field. The first guest was Dr. Syed Naqvi, MD, an adolescent and child psychiatrist – and may I say, he really is quite the expert. In fact I gained so much insight from his talk that I couldn’t wait to share some of his nuggets of expertise and wisdom with you.
The topic he was sharing with us was ‘Sibling Rivalry’. Now I have two elementary school aged children – 18 months apart – and I am just starting to see some of this one-upmanship everyone talks about, the ugly kind that eventually ends up in full-blown, shameless brawls. This drives me crazy. The fighting over the smallest things, continuous attempts to get the other in trouble, comparisons, finger pointing- I start to feel like Judge Judy trying to find peace and resolutions. My dilemma has been how do I nurture the one’s self confidence and ability to speak up without squelching the other’s? How do I teach respect, kindness and compassion when really all they want is to out-do each other? How do I get them to recognize that focusing too much on being ‘better than’, can be demoralizing to someone else?
It might surprise you, it did me, that Dr. Naqvi holds the parents responsible for creating the environment where sibling rivalry flourishes. And whether you have one child or many, this also becomes the basis for how children relate to others outside the immediate family as well – at its worst, left unchecked this kind of behavior is the foundation for potential bullying.
From expert Dr. Syed Naqvi, here are the 10 things you can do to help inoculate your family and establish a foundation for mutual respect and compassion:
- Sit down for a family meal at least three times a week.
- When the children speak to each other, make them listen to each other.
- Encourage and teach the art of dialogue – a process of conscious communication where one intuitively understands how one’s words will affect the other.
- Avoid making comparisons.
- Encourage and support the pursuit of excellence as opposed to being “the best.”
- Speak about carving out one’s destiny and what it is your child is meant to do to be of service to the world.
- Establish deep respect for others – respect defined as “how we treat each other.” Involving children in charity early on is a wonderful way to teach respect and compassion for others.
- Hold your ground when it comes to enforcing consequences.
- Be generous with gentle acts of graceful praise .
- Ultimately what every child really wants is your love and attention. Carve out ‘special time’, quality time where you are holding space with your child by keeping them engaged with you, i.e. – art project, cooking, puzzle – even a car ride without the cell phone will do the trick. The purpose is to give that child your full attention.
Dr. Naqvi wrapped up his discussion with the most potent nugget of the day:
“As parents it is our responsibility and of the greatest importance that we help give our children a ‘moral compass’ in which to live by.”
This is a gift that will serve them their entire lives….
Any thoughts, ideas, advice you’d like to share? I’d love to hear. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. XO ~ L