Dad Fosters Sibling Rivalry: Help!

  1. My husband has challenged me to produce documentation that inducing sibling rivalry is not beneficial to the development of children. He feels fostering competition among our triplet daughters will benefit their educational experience. For example, one daughter outperforms the other two rather consistently--and, in my opinion, she puts no more work into it than they do (she's just an academic kinda kid; the other two--who happen to be identical--are not).

    He will say to them : "Look at Mary!!! She got it right!! Why didn't you?!! If Mary got it right, you should too!!!" This happens rather consistently.

    Personally, I believe fostering this kind of competition is NOT healthy among siblings and particularly among multiples. Factor in that "Mary" is the fraternal and the other two are identical causes me more worry for relationship problems among the sisters. He was raised in this competitive spirit, always compared to his sister who outperformed him, and he says "It's the way I was raised, it's how I'm raising my children." He feels the experts support competition; I feel the experts support NOT inducing sibling rivalry and making comparisons between siblings. He said "prove it." So I need references...please, can someone point me in the direction to find the materials, articles, books, etc. that support my point? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   tiger
    Encouraging Positive Relationships
    Parents can play a major role in building and maintaining a healthy, happy, loving home life. Some ways to build positive relationships between siblings include:

    Teach Supportive Communication - Helping children work out their differences involves listening to them and identifying their feelings. When a fight starts, children might feel many emotions like anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, jealousy or disappointment. When they are calm, help them learn to express these feelings in words instead of fighting.
    Focus on Each Child's Talents - Each child is a special and a unique person. Children need to know that the contributions they make to the family are valued. By focusing on the positive talents each child posses, parents can build confidence in the child and strong relationships in the family.
    Avoid Comparing Your Children - Children who are compared will often feel resentful and angry both toward you and their sibling.
    Avoid using statements such as: "Why can't you be more like______?" (sister or brother's name)
    "He never makes those mistakes, why do you?"

    "Let _______ help you, he does that so well."

    "__________ never had these problems, why do you?"

    Statements like these can make children feel bad. They might also feel that they have failed you.


    Use Positive Reinforcement - Parents are role models for their children. If parents want their children to be loving towards one another, then they must praise that behavior when it happens. Remember, positive reinforcement is much more powerful than negative reinforcement!
    How to Handle Rivalry
    The goal for parents is not to rescue their children when they are fighting, but to help them learn to get along with each other. This is not always easy to do, but here are some suggestions for a parent's role during conflicts between siblings.

    Don't Become Involved in Your Children's Conflicts. Parents must stay out of their children's conflicts whenever possible. Otherwise, parents will become the judge and jury for their children. When parents get involved, they make it safe for children to fight because the children know mom and dad will not let either one get hurt.
    Don't Allow Your Children To Fight In Front Of You. Ask your children to take their fighting elsewhere. Some helpful phrases might be: "I am sure you guys can work that out," "I'm sorry to hear you are upset with each other, but if you are going to argue take it where I can't hear you," and "It is up to both of you to reach a solution."
    Problem Solve. Teach your children techniques to use when they get angry (walking away, counting to ten, or asking for help are all examples). Work on problem solving skills with your children when they are calm. Make sure they can name the problem and then discuss with them possible solutions.
    Establish Rules. Make sure that family rules and consequences are well known by each child. Children must know that biting, hitting, and other acts that can cause physical harm are unacceptable.
    Trust your children to settle their fights. Children need to learn to resolve their own conflicts. By playing a limited role in their arguments, you can help them develop this skill.
  4. by   Zee_RN
    Thanks for the input Tiger. Can you tell me where you got that from? I need to PROVE my point that experts don't support fostering competition so I need to know where that came from. I appreciate your help! Some good stuff in there!
  5. by   Stargazer
    Zee, would you mind my cutting and pasting your original message and posting on another BB I frequent? There are a lot of people involved in writing, publishing, health care, teaching, etc. on there and I think they could come up with articles and research pretty readily.
  6. by   live4today
    Your husband sounds a lot like my first husband whom I had three daughters with. He was often compared to an older brother of his who excelled in everything without trying, and my first spouse was considered "the road runner"--although he made good grades, he wasn't as "acacemic minded" as his brother. So, when we had our children, he started treating the first two girls the way his father treated him and his brother.

    Behavior of this nature needs counseling to overcome. Suggest to your husband that if he wants expert opinions on this subject matter to agree to attend family counseling with a child psychologist who will offer the information he obviously is seeking to overcome what happened to himself. I don't really think he wants to treat his daughters that way. I think he is subconsciously seeking an understanding about why he was treated that way. See that your husband gets the help he needs, and whatever you do, do not go along with his train of thinking. Children should not be compared to one another, but each one should be encouraged to be individuals who express their own talents and abilities as they "feel them". What one sibling does has nothing to do with what another sibling does. Each are different and unique in their own right! It's the way they were designed and created to be.
  7. by   Zee_RN
    That would be fine, Stargazer. I appreciate your help.

    Renee: family counseling!? He thinks he's dead right. He's one of these supremely self-confident people and he was raised that way so how could it bad?! I'd love to have him talk to psychologist about it but until I can give him some written proof he's still maintaining his way is the right way.
  8. by   live4today
    Originally posted by Zee_RN
    That would be fine, Stargazer. I appreciate your help.

    Renee: family counseling!? He thinks he's dead right. He's one of these supremely self-confident people and he was raised that way so how could it bad?! I'd love to have him talk to psychologist about it but until I can give him some written proof he's still maintaining his way is the right way.
    My ex-spouse and your husband sound like they are related! :chuckle The trick to get a stubborn know it all to counseling is to tell him "you need it to help you understand him better, and you would like for him to go along as a support system for you". They love nothing more than "feeling like God himself", so he should agree to go with you. Just don't ever mention to him that the real reason you are going is "him". :chuckle
  9. by   Stargazer
    Well, Zee, one of the posters took this as a personal challenge, and came up with this, this, this, this , and this. Oh, and this.

    And how come you're the only one who has to "prove it" by providing documentation? The poster who gave me these articles stated,
    I dare you to challenge him to find ANYTHING that says you "should" encourage sibling rivalry. I've been looking for over an hour and can't find a single thing that even suggests that there is one positive thing about fostering the rivalry.
    She's got a point. If your hubby is so hot on competition, why not make it a contest to see who can come up with the most documentation supporting their stance? Whoever loses has to shut up and agree to attend family counseling with a child psychologist.
  10. by   tiger
    zee-just type in sibling rivalry for your search engine and you get alot of options to browse. good luck,

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