With the Government’s advice to stay at home as much as you can, and schools introducing weekly Home-Based Learning to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, your kids are spending more time together – and inevitably, getting on each other’s nerves.
Isn’t it frustrating when you see your younger child fighting with his older sister? He wants her toy, but once he gets it, he abandons it.
You are left wondering why he made such a fuss about the toy in the first place. And then he repeats the whole process a minute later when his sister reaches for a different toy.
It’s as though he wants whatever his older sibling has – until he gets it, at which point his enthusiasm for the object rapidly vanishes.
It would be terrific if your kids get on with each other all the time, but tension between siblings occurs in every family, not just in yours.
This sort of fighting over toys – often initiated by the younger but at times by the older kid, too – is so common between siblings that psychologists regard the behaviour as normal.
Your child gets involved in disputes of this sort because he is trying to stamp his authority. He wants his sister to know that he matters, too, that she cannot always get her own way.
He is also jealous of her at times because she can do so much more than him – she is faster, more mature, speaks better and has more freedom.
It’s hardly surprising then, that he experiences occasional jealousy.
How you can help sort out their dispute
Obviously, you will have to get involved when the arguments escalates or when your kids are very upset, but try not to jump in too soon when the dispute is at a petty level.
Ignoring them at that stage may end your child’s moment of jealousy quicker than rewarding his misbehaviour with your attention. It is down to your judgement.
When you do have to intervene – probably because your older child is fed up with increasing harassment from her younger sibling, don’t just drag him away from the scene in order to put him into a separate room.
Keep the siblings together when trying to sort out their disagreement.
This is the only way they can both learn from the experience; separating them into different parts of the house simply keeps their anger for each other simmering.
Sit them down on chairs, facing each other, calm them down using a relaxed voice, and ask each in turn to give their individual account of what happened.
Once you have established that your younger child did indeed take his older sibling’s toy, emphasise quite clearly that he is not allowed to do this.
Point out that he shouldn’t snatch toys from her hand, and that he shouldn’t take any of her toys without her permission.
Chances are, your child won’t like to hear this, but keep saying it to him anyway.
And repeat this explanation every time he behaves in a similar way in the future. Make sure the toy he snatched is always instantly returned.
In addition, encourage your older child to occasionally lend her toys to her little brother, perhaps those that are not her favourite and that are not fragile.
Allowing her younger sibling to have occasional access to her toys will reduce the number of times he snatches from her.
Also, provide them with games they can play together, such as a ball, or board game. Sharing a play activity can help reduce tension between them.
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