Finally, someone is emphasizing that it is normal and healthy for siblings to fight! This article should be a relief for all those parents who think something is wrong whenever their kids don’t get along. It turns out that sibling fighting gives your child a leg up on dealing with the realities of life. For one thing, it teaches your child that they are not the center of the universe and that not everyone will always love everything about them. While your role as a parent is to treat your child in the most loving caring way possible, to keep your hostile feelings well contained, and to build a sense of safety and trust for your child- a sibling’s role is different. Siblings are the perfect people to teach each other ‘the ropes’, so to speak when it comes to having successful social relationships outside the family. Let’s face it not everyone is going to treat your child as kindly as you do.
Out in the world, your child is going to face criticism, judgement, jealousy, rivalry, and competition from others: including from schoolmates, teachers, coaches or even their best of friends.Siblings do in fact love each other! But siblings also act on their negative emotions toward each other. A sibling’s role is to prepare your child for the fact that not everyone will be as nice to them as you are.
Of course, you have to protect your children from physically harming each other or from going too far in harming each other emotionally. And yes, you can also assist your children in learning some adaptive negotiating techniques for dealing with their fights. However, you also need to treat their fights as normal, and to convey the mindset that not everyone always gets along all the time, that even in loving relationships people can have negative feelings toward each other. The next time you think that something is either wrong with your children or wrong with you as a parent because your kids are fighting…think again! Your children’s rivalry and fighting are some of the best ways for building up a child’s resiliency. And remember as Reflective Parenting emphasizes negative emotions don’t last forever. Even kids who fight also spend times getting along. Even kids who fought as children, can grow up and become very close and be the biggest supporters of each other later on as adults.
Written by Regina Pally, Co-Director, CRC