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Small Things Parents Can Do to Effectively Reduce Sibling Jealousy

Small Things Parents Can Do to Effectively Reduce Sibling Jealousy

Our relationships with our siblings are the most important in our lives. They are the ones we have known the longest and we share a lived experience that is unparalleled. But we have all heard the common terms “sibling rivalry” and “parental favoritism“.

Especially when children are very small, there is bound to be some conflict and competition, and sometimes parents get it wrong, dealing with children differently according to the ease of their personality traits.

If parents don’t address these issues early and guide the children to get along, support, accept and love each other unconditionally, they could jeopardize their adult relationships, not only with their siblings, but with other people in general.

With our brothers and sisters, we learn early on how to negotiate, share, nurture, protect, empathize, and avoid negative relationship attributes like jealousy, selfishness, aggression and misunderstanding. As parents, we need to ensure that children understand how to navigate relationships in a healthy way, regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that life may throw at them.

Remember: Your Children’s Individuality Deserves to Be Treated Equally

There are many signs that can demonstrate that there is an imbalance within sibling relationships, fuelling jealousy. Often these manifest unintentionally.

Honestly Ask Yourself If Your Different Treatment Is Responsible

Regardless of our kinship, we are all simply individuals who will get along with some people more than others, whether they are our parents or siblings. However, as guardians, we can ask ourselves some questions to determine if we are treating our children unequally by not making space for their individual differences. This quiz is a helpful guide to become more conscious of our behavior.

Many factors contribute to why siblings fight and why parents treat their children differently to one another. Children have their own individual personalities, and depending on their ages and developmental stages, they will relate to each other in varying ways. Parents too have a spectrum of personality traits and life experiences and will connect and relate to their children individually.

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To Ensure Your Children Grow Up Feeling Loved, You Should Be Objective

Sometimes though, it requires adults to be objective, to remove their personal feelings and emotional urges from their behavior, in order to implement the task of parenting and conflict management in a fair and equitable way. This will ensure that siblings grow up understanding two simple things:

  1. They are loved equally and unconditionally
  2. They are allowed and encouraged to be unique and different from one another, using their best qualities to compliment each other and coping with the personality traits that are likely to clash.

Otherwise, Your Children Can Become an Overly Competitive Person Living in Resentment

When these very simply factors aren’t addressed, what are seemingly insignificant feelings of jealousy and rivalry as children, can turn into full-blown resentment and irreparable rifts as adults.

Children feel as though they have to compete for their parents’ affection, they are judgemental and not accepting of their siblings’ personalities and life experiences and parents tend to lose close bonds with all their children as a result.

Once we have understood why sibling jealousy and parental favoritism can occur and the factors that contribute to them, we can begin to take action to address issues as they occur.

The biggest realization is that conflict is inevitable and healthy. We need to learn to “fight right” so that healthy conflict resolution and prosperous relationship bonds can take place [1].

Here are 5 ways to address sibling jealousy and parental favoritism:

Show Affection to Your Children In Response to Their Individual Needs

We can show affection to children in mutually responsive ways. Some children love to be hugged and kissed, others prefer their personal space.

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Affection and physical contact is vital to human bonding, but it is important to figure out the needs of the individual child. Show affection to your children in the way they prefer. If a child loves endless cuddles on your lap, you are not playing favorites if that is how they respond.

Just ensure that your other child, for example, who prefers a quick kiss and cuddle and verbal praise, gets equal affection in a way that they are comfortable with.

Eliminate Any Gender Bias

It is not important or relevant whether your child is a boy or a girl. Often we place different expectations on our children based on their gender, that creates inequality, conflict and jealousy.

We expect girls to be helpful around the house, to be softer, fairer, quieter, prettier. We encourage boys to be strong, tough, smart and to suppress their softer emotions.

However, we should not treat our children differently according to their gender. Neither is more or less capable, important or valuable. Children should be allowed to express themselves as they see fit. We should nurture their desires, talents, strengths and abilities equally and stop putting pressure on them based on fabricated and false societal expectations.

The best way to do this is to give them the opposite options.

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Encourage boys to play with dolls and dress ups, to help themselves fulfill their needs and to express their feelings. Girls should be praised for their abilities, intelligence and character, not for their looks or fashion sense. They should be allowed to get dirty, be loud and play with building blocks and cars, and to use their bodies physically by climbing, playing sport and running.

Emphasize Equality During Conflict Resolution

Sometimes it is clear who is right or wrong, but sometimes the issue is blurred. As guardians, we need children to understand that fighting and conflict are inevitable, but there are ways to resolve problems in a fair, respectful and mutually beneficial way.

We need to make children witness distress in others, if they are the cause and to apologize. We also need to teach children how to forgive and forget and to make up. We can encourage them to play together if it is working and to give each other some space when there is tension. We can guide them by being facilitators and also providing an example by how we address conflict resolution within our own relationships.

Nurture Individual Relationships While Upholding the Group Dynamics

Children need to feel like they belong to a family, a tribe, that there is a wholeness to the dynamic of their relationships as siblings, as family, that they are united as a team and have each others’ backs.

At the same time, they need to be encouraged to have one-on-one unique relationships with individuals. It may be that they get along better or have more in common with one sibling over another, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less loyal or affectionate towards the others.

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Treasure the Value of Open Honest Communication

Often conflict, jealousy and resentment escalates unnecessarily when people do not have the tools or desire to express their feelings in a healthy way.

We need to teach children to convey their message clearly and also to interpret the messages of others accurately.

Sometimes feelings get in the way of talking, and there are many other ways to exchange messages in order to resolve conflict. We can help children pay attention to and be aware of each others’ behavior and mood. If someone looks like they want to be left alone, there might be a reason and they may simply need some time and space, or alternatively to be reached out to.

We can reach out to each other in a number of ways without speaking; buying a small gift, sending a card, writing a letter, telling a joke or doing a random act of kindness. We can also guide children to deal with their own feelings of anger, jealousy and resentment.

Sometimes confrontation is unnecessary and developing the emotional maturity to work out your own feelings is something we can encourage in children. Other times these feelings need to be expressed, as confronting as they may be, and children can be taught to not take it personally and allow their siblings to say their piece and accept their feelings. And should the need arise, to simply apologize and move on.

Reference

More by this author

Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Taking a Bath 20 Dalai Lama Quotes To Change The Way You Think Small Things Parents Can Do to Effectively Reduce Sibling Jealousy Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication Most of Us Are Similar When We’re Small, but Then Critical Thinking Differentiates Us

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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