We know that one of the major themes of Sefer Bereishit is sibling rivalry. It is also one of the hardest things that parents need to deal with.
The thing is, we cannot get rid of sibling rivalry. It is a natural part of family life. However, there are three things that we can do to help keep the peace.
- Validate feelings—Repeat what they say:
When kids are fighting, it is not helpful if you take sides. Frankly, it takes two to tango. A lot of fights that your kids are caused because they feel they were slighted by their sibling; not at the moment, but an hour before or even weeks back.
For example: Sam teases his brother Eli and tells him he looks nerdy in his new glasses. Eli leaves in a huff for his play-date. When Eli returns, Sam is sitting quietly doing his homework. Eli starts to bother him because he is still angry at Sam for making fun of his glasses. Sam comes crying to you, telling you that he was just doing his homework and Eli starting teasing him.
It’s best in this situations as your children complain to you to just repeat back what your children are telling you.
“Wait, Eli you are telling me that you were just sitting doing your homework and Sam started teasing you…”
“Sam, you are saying that Eli teased you about your glasses this morning and that is why you teased him back…”
“Eli, you think that is stupid—why does he care what you said this morning he should just forget about it.”
“Sam, you did not forget what he said, it is really annoying to get teased about your glasses…”
Validating feelings can help children calm down and see each other’s point of view. It also helps you from taking sides, which is never helpful.
- Pat Phrases:
It is also helpful to have some neutral pat phrases handy that let your children know the rules or the values in your home.
For example, you can say:
“No name calling.”
- Conflict Resolution:
Finally, you can then lead your children to resolve their conflicts on their own. It’s best if you wait until a calm moment to say:
“You guys seem to be fighting a lot. What can we do to make it more peaceful around here?”
While they are fighting you can try to break it up by saying:
“It sounds as if you guys are having trouble getting along. Do you think you are calm enough to take a break and finish this up later? Right now, it sounds like you are both so mad that the fighting will just get worse.”
Sibling rivalry can be tough: validating feelings, having pat phrases and moving children towards solutions can help.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.