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Old 07-18-2011, 12:40 PM   #1
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Normal sibling rivalry?

I am an only child, so I always seem at a loss about these things.

My 6 and 8 year old argue 80% of their waking hours. They generally don't speak to each other without someone having an attitude. However, I always thought that if they were in a group of children, they would stick up for each other.

The other day, they were playing with some of the neighborhood children, who are all around good kids. All of a sudden my 8 year old started calling my 6 year old "princess unicorn head", which really upset him. Then I guess a few of the other kids either starting calling him this or at least laughed too, because my 6 year old came home in tears. I was so disappointed in my 8 year old, that I didn't even know what to say. I took away the use of her bike for a week (which is arguably her favorite toy).

Now I feel like this sibling rivalry is spinning out of control and I can't seem to reel it back in. I feel so guilty that I haven't done a good job at bonding them to each other or eliminating the rivalry years ago. Any ideas on what to do? I'm heartbroken over this.

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Old 07-18-2011, 01:28 PM   #2
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Re: Normal sibling rivalry?

I can only speak for myself, but my younger brother (by two years) and I rarely got along. Frankly, he's a brat, and always has been. Just because someone is family doesn't mean you have to like them... We did occassionally play together, but mostly we ignored each other or fought (like, physically - he would knock down my door, we would punch each other, etc). I'm 32 and he's 30, and we've spoken once since Christmas.

Not to say your kids are a lost cause, but wanted to share my experience.

Are there activities they both enjoy that you can focus on, and do frequently? Painting ceramics, picking strawberries, building forts, coloring, bike riding?
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:32 PM   #3
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Re: Normal sibling rivalry?

Good question. Yes, there are activities that they enjoy in common. However, things always seem to get competitive (who builds the bigger lego tower, whose picture looks more like a 'real' person, etc). Our family spends alot of time together, so I always assumed that if I left it to them to "work it out" eventually they would, but now I'm starting to wonder if it's time for us parents to really step in.

They don't usually get physical with each other, it's mostly arguing.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:07 PM   #4
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Re: Normal sibling rivalry?

Have you heard of Dr Ray? I would check him out for some suggestions. Yes, some sibling rivalry is normal. But sadly when it gets out of control it can and often does have a long term impact. I don't speak to my older brother pretty much ever due in great part of his attitude towards his siblings growing up. But I think how parents choose to handle it also plays a role. Keep an eye on the kids and constantly work with them on treating each other with respect. No, they don't have to like one another but they should learn to treat each other with respect. I'll admit I am very quick to punish our children if we see/hear them treating a sibling badly because everyone deserves to feel safe, comfortable and respected in their own home. It breaks a parent's heart when they hear their children being so mean to one another. I hope you can find a way to help your children understand how hurtful they are being to one another.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:48 PM   #5
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Re: Normal sibling rivalry?

I have a similar issue, my boys are 5 and 7 and they fight all the time. Not physically, but arguing and name calling and frustration from both of them. However, when they are one their own, they are both protective of eachother. I just can't seem to get them to be that way at home when it is just us! Good luck, I will be keeping an eye out for what others post here. I do feel that as brothers, they need to understand that it is ok to dsagree, but yelling at eachother is not the answer!
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