Refereeing Children’s Quarrels
Why do young siblings quarrel for the slightest reason? Quite often, emotional issues like mutual envy or a craving for attention cause these fights. When a second child is born, most parents turn the focus of their attention to the new comer. The elder child naturally develops a fear that he might lose the devoted care and undivided attention he was enjoying till then. This leads him to treat the younger child as a rival, and the resulting stress ends up in quarrels.
Another reason for quarrels is competition among siblings.
Quite often, a competitive spirit is nurtured among children by the parents themselves. When a mother says to an elder child, “Look how smart your little brother is! Why can’t you be like him?”
She is actually sowing the seeds for competition and envy.
Parents can resolve this issue, at least to an extent, with a little care. What children wish for is complete love of their parents. They fear that they will lose part of that love if it is shared with a brother or sister.
Such thoughts will vanish only after the children grow up to adults. The elder child should be prepared to accept a younger sibling before it is born. Just tell him a cute little baby is coming to play with him, discourage visitors from cracking jokes like, “oh, the little one’s so cute! Mom won’t require you any longer!”
An effective way to reduce fights might be to assign children responsibilities towards their siblings, like elder child could be asked to look after the younger daughter while mother in the kitchen is cooking something. This would enhance love between children, turning off the tendency to fight.
Comparisons between your children, too, needs to be avoided, since this may instill unfriendly feelings, identify the special abilities of each child, and nurture and encourage them. Parents should not get involved in the fights of children by probing into who started it all, or by taking sides.
Children are sure to quarrel, whatever measures you take! Don’t give undue importance to quarrels, and magnify them by too much introspection. Let children resolve their own issues. Grownups should interfere only when quarrels escalate to harmful levels.