I am a working mother, having two children with the age gap of 14 months. I constantly see them fighting over trivial issues and after I return home I have no energy left to sort their problems. They just don’t seem to get along well. My son who is elder feels I don’t love him enough in comparison with my daughter. This hurts me a lot. What should I do?
Dear Sheena, your situation is known as sibling rivalry. Sibling rivalry is common in families. It occurs especially in families where kids have a close age group. Parents dream of a wonderful relationship between their children, but disagreements are unavoidable. Make sure you make both the children feel special and valued for who they are individually. Parents should never make comparisons between children. Avoid favouritism. Some researchers believe that perceived favouritism is the greatest cause of sibling rivalry. When possible, let brothers and sisters settle their own differences.
Intervene only if you feel things are going out of hand. Talk to your son about his feelings of not being loved, assure him that you love him equally. Don’t dismiss or suppress your children’s resentment or angry feelings. Listening to your children without being judgmental will definitely help. Try not to foster competition. The classic “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” is bound to hurt his feelings. Instead, emphasise each child’s strengths separately with positive feedback, and praise and reward them together whenever possible. Plan family activities that are fun for everyone. If your kids have good experiences together, it acts as a buffer when they come into conflict. It’s easier to work it out with someone you share warm memories with.