Do children outgrow sibling rivalry? Recently, our grown sons got together to celebrate one of them returning from military service. Two of them have a colorful past of competition, disagreements, and even a few physical altercations. But that was all in the past. As the three of them reminisced it was not the negative memories that mattered most but how their friendship has grown through it all. They each hold the other two in great regard. Create building blocks to better relationships between your children with these conversation starters.
What do you like most about having brothers and sisters?
Now, if this is too difficult because there is a recent fight, turn it around playfully and ask, “Okay, what do you dislike the least?” Laugh a little then let them wrestle with the question until they have to give in and giggle too. There must be something they like about each other and if dessert awaits the response, they may be even more generous in their answers.
What one thing do you have in common with your brothers and sisters? (excluding that they are in the same family)
They may enjoy similar sports, foods, or games. Encourage them to develop their response with stories. As they talk, listen for ways to encourage them to spend more time doing the things they all enjoy.
Why are you thankful that you have brothers and sisters?
The more they remember and recount the positive aspects of being part of a family, the less likely they are to harbor resentment or jealously for a sibling. A thankful spirit can overcome many differences between brothers and sisters and the dinner table is a great place to share these memories.
Some rivalry is not only natural but can build respect if coupled with appreciation for their differences. Use this conversation as a time of encouragement and reconciliation. You know as a sibling yourself that disagreements will arise even in the adult years. The better the foundation when they are young the better the outcome when they are older. Ultimately, sibling rivalry can be overcome for good.
Note: If you or your child is an only child then maybe you can use this conversation to discuss the pros and cons of not experiencing sibling rivalry at all.