Relationships between brothers and sisters are some of the most important and potentially longest lasting relationships in our lives. As parents helping to foster these relationships is important, but despite our very best efforts, rivalry between siblings is BOUND to happen. It can be after the addition of a new child to the family through birth, adoption, or fostering that competition and rivalry begin, however sibling disputes are likely to happen and continue throughout our children’s lives. Finding ways to help our kids navigate their sibling relationships is an essential part of parenting and maintaining a healthy and loving family.
The books listed below are ones I share with with kids when they are already having sibling rivalry issues. I wouldn’t just read them just because there is going to be a new child entering the family (maybe the soon-to-be sibling doesn’t have these concerns). But when struggles with the adjustment to a growing family arise … or if your kids are getting a bit feisty with each other, these books can be helpful (especially for younger children):
A Pocket Full of Kisses, by Audrey Penn … a follow-up to her amazing book on separation anxiety. How sharing your momma can be hard, but she always has enough kisses for all her kids.
My Baby Brother is a Little Monster, by Sarah Albee … A Sesame Street book that is great for young children having a hard time getting used to having a baby in the family.
Crunch Munch, Dinosaur Lunch, by Paul Bright … Ty just wants to go out and hunt his lunch, but his little sister is always tagging behind!
Do Like Kyla, by Angela Johnson … younger sister wants to do everything just like her big sister
Memoirs of a Goldfish, by Devin Scillian … Everything was going fine for the goldfish, until his tank became crowded. A wonderful story for any family who is adjusting to a crowded household or changes within the family.
The Best Kid in the World, by Peter Reynolds … “When SugarLoaf discovers that her parents once bestowed the Best Kid in the World Award on her brother, her first thought is: But … But … but what about me?”
The subject of sibling rivalry is popular among many parenting blogs and I found some great articles with fabulous and creative ways to tackle the issue of sibling rivalry:
As you can see, there is a TON written on the subject. Here are some KEY POINTS to remember …
Sibling rivalry is normal and common.
Sibling rivalry is part of children learning to navigate relationships and develop communication skills.
As a parent it is important not to take sides … if a consequence is given, all children involved should receive the consequence for fighting/arguing. (and, yes, of course there are times of extenuating circumstances)
Focus on positive interactions between your children and praise them.
Children need attention from their parents.
There are some cases in which sibling rivalry starts to get out of hand. If you are notice that your child/ren are becoming increasingly anxious or withdrawn, if there are changes in their eating or sleeping patterns, or if the bickering is becoming violent or verbally abusive you should contact a mental health professional to help resolve the feuding.
Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.