Your younger girl wants to be bet­ter than her el­der si­b­ling, not be­cause she dis­likes him, but be­cause that is one way of prov­ing that she is ca­pa­ble.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - AGE BY STAGE 7 - 9 YEARS -

Com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween sib­lings is of­ten most in­tense when the age gap is around two years.

And now that both your chil­dren are in pri­mary school, the one-up­man­ship has greatly in­creased. To pre­vent the at­mos­phere at home turn­ing from re­lax­ation to ten­sion, it’s im­por­tant to en­cour­age co­op­er­a­tion in­stead.

Ri­valry be­tween your chil­dren is strong at this age for sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing:

• Iden­tity As your younger daugh­ter es­tab­lishes her iden­tity more rmly, she starts to com­pare her tal­ents and abil­i­ties with those of oth­ers. She wants to be bet­ter than her el­der si­b­ling, not be­cause she dis­likes him, but be­cause that is one way of prov­ing that she is ca­pa­ble.

• In­ter­ests A small age gap means your chil­dren share sim­i­lar in­ter­ests and life­style. It’s only nat­u­ral that com­pe­ti­tion arises when each tries to make progress in a shared ac­tiv­ity. Petty nig­gling be­gins dur­ing a game to­gether or when try­ing to de­cide which TV pro­gramme to watch.

• In­se­cu­rity In a fam­ily with more than one child, each si­b­ling re­alises that Mum and Dad have lim­ited time and re­sources to go around.

As far as your kids are con­cerned, at­ten­tion paid to one means that there is less for the other. No won­der they start to com­pete with each other for your ap­proval.

You don’t have to live with the con­stant squab­bling, though. Here are ve ways to dis­cour­age com­pet­i­tive­ness among sib­lings:

De­velop sep­a­rate in­ter­ests

Where pos­si­ble, di­rect your chil­dren to­wards sep­a­rate ac­tiv­i­ties. For in­stance, if one wants to at­tend gym­nas­tic classes, her sis­ter could sign up for mu­sic lessons. This may not be con­ve­nient for you in the short-term, but in the long-term it helps to re­duce com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Give each child in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion

Don’t force them to com­pete with each other for your at­ten­tion. In­stead, make it a point to give each some in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion daily. Set aside ve or 10 min­utes for each so that she can spend time alone with you.

Value each child’s achieve­ments

No mat­ter how your chil­dren com­pare to each other – and you prob­a­bly know that they have their own strengths and weak­nesses – give each ap­proval for their ef­fort and at­tain­ments.

Pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for co­op­er­a­tion

Ri­valry be­tween your kids is less likely when they are specically given op­por­tu­ni­ties for co­op­er­a­tion. For in­stance, del­e­gate a shared chore they have to com­plete to­gether, such as set­ting cut­lery on the ta­ble. The more co­op­er­a­tion, the bet­ter.

Avoid com­par­isons

Whether well in­ten­tioned or not, com­par­isons be­tween sib­lings are al­ways di­vi­sive. So avoid state­ments like “Why can’t you keep your room tidy like your el­der sis­ter?” or “Why don’t you do your home­work on time like your younger sis­ter?”

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