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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

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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