Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field is how Oxford dictionary defines rivalry. So siblings may want the same toys, similar privileges and vie each other for them. But most of all what each one of them wants is love and appreciation from parents.
Sibling rivalry can be healthy too. How much ever it might be driving the parent crazy there’s an upside to growing with siblings. Sibling rivalry means one has a sibling and science has shown immense benefits of growing with a sibling. Also it teaches you to be competitive in a healthy way.
It becomes toxic when parents start comparing the kids consciously or unknowingly, show more care and affection to a particular child. Or they may overlook younger child’s mistakes and give them more time.
When a new child arrives in the family, the focus and time shifts to the infant. This may make the elder child feel neglected. But if the elder child is involved in the process and explained about the needs of their younger sibling, they will do better. It’s better to start preparing them a couple of months before the new one arrives. Also the explanation should be in a sweet manner with kindness and compassion for the elder child and not just stating it off handedly or matter of fact. It would be nice to create certain ways beforehand in which you can spend quality time with the older sibling.
Try to create ways in which you as a parent can spend quality time together as a family but also individually with them however small the time maybe. Structure the day of elder child so that they don’t feel lost and try to include them as much as possible.
The temptation to take sides when children fight is huge but curb it. Teach them to sort their differences on their own. Avoid acting as a referee. Interfere only when there are chances of significant physical harm. A little arm wrestling might not be that harmful. Start meditating and practicing calmness if you haven’t already so that you can resist the temptation to butt in and don’t feel you are going mad with all the he did that and she did this.
Siblings sometimes taunt each other by saying mumma doesn’t love you, she loves me and proceeds to give some examples. Listen carefully, introspect and see if you were really taking sides. Talk to each child individually later and then in appropriate moments in the day mention how both of them are precious and loved equally.
Differentiate between the behaviour and the person. It is very important to have a dialogue. You can say to your children something like “I may like certain qualities in a child and praise her more doesn’t mean that you are less loved. My love and concern which emanates from my heart is same for both of you. You both are worthy. I deeply appreciate both of you as wonderful souls and what I praise or reprimand are your behaviours not you as your person. So that you can correct undesirable behaviours and grow to be more happy and responsible.
Becoming mindful in daily conversations is important. This way I think morbid sibling rivalry can be avoided and a healthy relationship established.