When siblings fight, both the children and the parents feel the tension, stress and hurt feelings. By understanding the reasons why siblings fight, Rabbi Shmuley says parents can begin to address the problem and help their children effectively resolve their differences.
He shares the four most common causes for sibling strife and the four best ways to teach your children to get along.
Four Reasons Why Children Fight:
Children are selfish. Rabbi Shmuley says children are naturally selfish, which leads to many sibling rivalries. "They need to be taught how to share—it doesn't come naturally to them," he says.
Children have a "scarcity" mentality. Children hear adults talk about scarcity—whether it's a lack of family finances or global oil shortages—which leads them to focus on what they don't have as opposed to what they do have.
Children are naturally envious. "It's part of human nature; it's part of the survival instinct," Rabbi Shmuley says. As a result, kids often want what other people have.
Children often treat their siblings as a competitor. Parents can alter this perception for the better, Rabbi Shmuley says.
Four Ways to Teach Siblings to Get Along:
There must be a punishment. Rabbi Shmuley says a parent's first reaction must always be to deliver consequences when their kids fight. If, for example, siblings are fighting over a toy, remove the toy from their possession immediately, he says.
Stop showing your children a "scarcity" mentality. Don't tell them the world is running out of oil or that people in other countries are starving or that you don't have money to pay the bills, Rabbi Shmuley says.
Teach children the difference between jealousy and envy. According to Rabbi Shmuley, jealousy is the legitimate desire to protect that which is yours. Envy is the desire to have that which belongs to somebody else. Teach children to share and be happy with what they have, he says.
Teach children the beauty of family. Tell children how lucky they are to have a brother or sister, instilling the notion that a sibling is one of the greatest gifts they can have in life, he says.
"Let your children always see that the other is their brother."