- Help your child understand what she is good at, hopefully not the same things as her sibling(s).
- Children need individual time with their parents on a regular basis.
- Families need good family time beyond dinner. There need to be activities planned around the children’s age and interest. When these go well, the children learn this is how families play together.
- Children do not do as well when they are tired, hungry or ill. These needs need to be considered and planned for.
- Parents are role models. If children see you working things out with them or other family members in a constructive manner they will model that behavior.
- We also serve as role models for management of anger. If you model constructive ways to deal with feelings of anger your children will also do this. If you do not manage your anger well please get some help for this anger.
- Don’t play favorites.
- Don’t compare or say things like: “Why can’t you do this like your brother?”
- Teach them you will be fair but that might not always mean equal. That means that each child will get what they need but everyone may not get something every time.
- As always in parenting, listen more that you talk. Even small children will tell us what they need. We have to be open to listening and to avoid telling them not to feel a certain way or that their feelings don’t matter.
- None of us were born knowing how to resolve conflict or manage feelings of resentment. They need to be taught.
- Reframe things into a positive statement. “I appreciate that you walked away when your brother was yelling at you. Good Job.”
No matter how good you are at teaching and modeling, conflicts will arise. Besides, that is partly why you are reading this article. So what do you do when things get out of hand?
- No matter what has happened, don’t yell. Yelling at children is like trying to steer the car by honking the horn.
- Get the children to a safe place and wait until things are calmer.
- If a conflict ensues, both children were involved and no one is a victim, so do not side with either one.
- When things have calmed down, sit down with the children and process what they could have done differently. With very young children you will be teaching them how to do this. As they get more experienced with this process, they will even begin to do this themselves.
The goal is to reduce the incidents of resentment. There will be times when no matter how hard you try your children will feel angry, jealous, intimidated, or a host of other uncomfortable feelings. When that happens, just help them process what occurred and how to change it for now and in the future.
Written by Sharon Cook, LCSW, LMFT