Easing the competition in your home
Empathize. Your child has big feelings about this issue. Trying to argue your child out of her feelings won't work. Acknowledging them will help her feel understood, which means she can stop fighting. This is the most important thing you can do to help your child with her feeling that things aren't fair.
Instead of arguing: "Of course you get to go first sometimes, don't exaggerate!"
Empathize: "It feels like you never get to go first, huh?"
Instead of explaining: "He's older, so he gets to stay up later."
Empathize: "You wish you could stay up later ... it's hard to stop playing and get ready for bed ... I bet when you're eight like your brother; you'll love staying up later."
Focus on what each child wants rather than getting hooked when they compare or compete. When your children accuse you of favoring their sibling, you know intuitively that this is a serious accusation. On some level, they're saying you don't have enough love and protection for them, since you're using it up on their sister. Understandably, you can get hooked and argue about who got what. But that's a battle you'll never win.
Instead of arguing: "I did not give him more - see, you have the same amount!"
Acknowledge the need your child is expressing without reference to his sibling, and reassure him that there's always more than enough for everyone: "It sounds like you're ready for more noodles. Show me how much you want and I'll dish them out for you."
Give material possessions based on need; be sure love is limitless. If one child has outgrown her sneakers and the other hasn't, explain to all the kids that today it's Asia's turn for new sneakers, and Amira will get hers when she outgrows her current pair. Be alert to help Amira past her envy when Asia struts in.
Don’t be afraid to treat children differently. Interestingly, several studies in which children were interviewed about how parents treat them and their siblings have found that kids don't mind being treated differently if they think the outcome is fair. They may give you a hard time because their brother stays up later, but they do understand that an older child gets more privileges and more responsibilities.
Teach your children basic "legal" skills so that they can be in charge of fairness and you don't have the impossible job of playing judge.
One divides, the other chooses. As soon as your younger child is able to point, stop being the one to divide their treat, or even dish their ice cream. That always becomes a contest over who gets more (meaning who is more loved by you). Instead, one child does the dividing or dishing (under your supervision), and the other child chooses who gets which portion.
Put it in writing. Even before they can read, children have enormous respect for the power of the written word. Let them hammer out an agreement and help them put it in writing and sign it with their own "mark."
Fill each child’s cup. The reason children compete is to ensure their survival in the face of danger and scarce resources. So your job as the parent is to love each child so he never needs to wonder if you might love his sibling more. Address the perceived unfairness symbolically, by showering your child with love, letting him know that your love for him is limitless.Stay connected and receive timely and topical parent resource information. Like us on Facebook or sign up for emails with parent resource information.
Source: Markham, Laura. (May 2015). Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings.