Ever wondered why your children are so different from each other? Of course you have, we all have, many times. One likes sport the other doesn’t, one likes to read and the other is loud, sound familiar. They came from the same two parents, you treated them the same, well almost, they had a similar upbringing, why then are they so different? Well the answer lies in competition.
You have two competitive children. Lots of children view their brothers and sisters as rivals. All kids are looking for something that they can do well, that will give them an edge on their brother or sister. So they then, without knowing, develop behaviours, skills, interests and abilities in totally different areas to their siblings. They think ‘I can’t be as good as them at school but I can do music instead’. There is a whole lot of research written about siblings, birth order and who they compete with. Competition can create lots of dramas in a family!
How do you know if your children are caught in the competition cycle? Do they constantly fight and bicker? Do they criticise each other? Do they tell tales to you as a parent so that you know how naughty the other one has been? Does one try to be better and show that they are the best over their sibling? One child is so different to the other? Do you think one child is usually ‘responsible’ and the other ‘difficult’?
Without knowing it, you can increase the competition between children. Ever caught yourself saying ‘Why can’t you work hard like your brother?’ ‘Why aren’t you tidy like your sister?’ ‘Your sister has better manners than you!’ ‘Who started it?’ Oh dear, all these statements encourage competition so eliminate them from your vocabulary. Ask yourself also if you praise one child a lot and don’t or forget to praise the other? If so, you are widening the gap between siblings and making the competition more intense without realizing. Stop being the referee and trying to work out who started it, it’s forcing you to take sides.
How to help your children? Accept that each of your children are different and each has things that they are good at. Encourage them to work as a team, eg. instead of counting who can shoot the most hoops, count the total number together in a row, taking turns. The competition will cease immediately. Encourage them to take an interest in their brother or sisters activities after school. Stay out of their fights if possible, also try to encourage them all rather than praise achievements only. Then watch the competition dissolve.