Sibling rivalry is a pretty common phenomenon in most households, but kids of divorce have more to compete for: their parents’ attention on borrowed time. Since custody agreements divide the amount of time each parent gets to spend with children, kids often battle over who gets the most attention in each home—and this can be particularly evident when there are step-siblings involved.
How to Cope with Sibling Rivalry During Divorce
Every child has his or her own needs, and understanding that is half of the battle when it comes to sibling rivalry. While one of your kids might need extra hugs and cuddles, another might prefer more conversation time from a distance. When those basic needs are met, children are less likely to compete with one another.
You can also lessen conflict in your home if you:
- Avoid comparing your kids to each other at all costs. Even when you’re praising one of your kids, be careful not to compare his or her accomplishment to a sibling’s accomplishments.
- Stay out of kids’ fights. Naturally, you’ll have to step in if things get out of control—but encouraging kids to settle their own differences without your input can teach them that it’s easier to get along than to fight.
- Set clear, firm rules. Tell your children which behaviours are acceptable and which are unacceptable when they’re not getting along. Putting a stop to name-calling and physical aggression before it starts is best, and make sure your kids know what consequences they’ll face if they break the rules.
- Steer your kids away from trouble. If there’s a constant point of contention between your kids, remove the problem so they don’t feel compelled to fight over it. If a gaming system sparks fights, either encourage the children to make a schedule or put it on the shelf.
Keeping Your Ex “In the Loop”
If you and your ex are using collaborative parenting techniques (which your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer most likely encouraged you to do), it won’t be much of a problem for you two to communicate about what’s going on with the kids.
If you can’t get along, try sending an email to break the ice; let your ex know what you’ve observed and how you’ve rectified the situation in your home. Ask if he or she has any tips for you. Having the same rules at each house can help your kids work through their sibling rivalry and come out with a stronger, healthier relationship.