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Parenting through Sibling Rivalry

Life gets interesting when you have children close in age to each other. Younger siblings usually want to emulate older siblings. This often results in them being involved in the same activities, having the same friends and trying out for the same teams. Feelings can easily get hurt and rivalries can develop when one sibling makes a team or club and the other doesn't. Fulfill these three roles to encourage and support siblings when one is dealing with disappointment and the other is feeling fine. 

  1. Be a Teacher. Use the situation as a learning opportunity for your children. Life is full of disappointments and learning how to accept disappointment is a valuable skill. Teach each of your children the skill of showing sensitivity to others. Help them congratulate and console each other. 
  2. Be a Counselor. Your role as a parent is to pull each child aside and talk to him or her about what they are going through. Discuss the feelings that come along with that experience (i.e., awkwardness, jealousy, anger, excitement) and what each child can do to manage those feelings. Then help each child see things from the other sibling's point of view.
  3. Be a Coach. Remind your children that you are a family and families support each other during positive and negative times. Practice makes perfect, so practice with each child how it might sound to say, "Congratulations" or "I'm sorry you didn't make the team" by role-playing with each of them. Then, encourage each child to deliver the message you practiced to the other. 

Neither child is right or wrong for feeling how they feel when one experiences disappointment and the other experiences success. Use these opportunities to help your children develop unique interests and mature as individuals.