I don’t know about you but when I witness sibling jealousy, it makes me incredibly sad. And I’m not talking about the “normal” sibling rivalry, I’m talking about the all-out tantrum in Target because one child is getting the “thing” or the other sibling is jealous of an accomplishment.
Of course, we know that everything can’t all be equal all of the time.
Sometimes it just isn’t “our time.” For example, maybe one child won an award. It doesn’t mean each child in the household should also receive that same award.
Recently, we registered our almost six-year-old for tee ball. He loves it! He talks about how much he enjoys baseball games and making new friends. He’s always talking about it.
My daughter who is three isn’t quite old enough for team sports. She has noticed the attention that my son has been receiving. For instance, we bought him new equipment and our family spends lots of time at the baseball field. My daughter has asked why she isn’t playing tee ball and why she didn’t get a new baseball bat at the store. But at the same time, my daughter really enjoys cheering on her brother!
As a parent, I am trying to navigate this new experience. My kids haven’t quite hit the point of sibling jealousy yet. But we’ve made a conscious decision to make sure we nip it in the bud before we see it in our own family. So we’ve developed some tools to discourage sibling jealousy. By no means are we parenting experts, but we have found that by making these conscious efforts in our home, we are noticing positive learned behavior.
We’ve asked ourselves what can we do as parents to encourage healthy competition? And how can we raise our children to be supportive of each other?
Here are four tips that have been working for us.
1. Model By Example
One of the most rewarding feelings a parent can have is knowing that your child genuinely supports their siblings or another child. While we sit at my son’s baseball game, we cheer him on! We support him with our words. My daughter has also begun shouting her own support like, “Go Jaxson! You can do it!” And it’s the cutest thing ever!
2. Spend Time Together
How can we support another person close to us without being present somehow? Attend a sporting event together. Have a play date. Go to a park. It doesn’t have to cost anything to spend time and make memories.
3. Explain Empathy
Teaching someone empathy might seem impossible. There is also debate that empathy is inherent to the individual. Talk about empathy during conversations with our children. I do this by telling my daughter, “That was so nice of you to cheer on your brother during his game today. I bet that made him feel very good!” Or “When you cheer on your brother that shows him that you care.”
4. Encourage One Another in Daily Life
Supporting one another can happen in many areas, not just sports. It can happen while your children are playing together, building blocks, racing toy cars, or playing with friends at a park. Although it may be another year before my daughter can have some of the same experiences as my son, I can still encourage my son to support her as she masters different skills.
By making these conscious efforts, we have noticed the bond growing between my son and daughter. I hope these tips can help foster a positive environment in your home!
I’d also love to know what works for you and your family. Please feel free to share in the comment section!