By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
My 8-year-old daughter gets angry with her 6-year-old sister for no reason at all. She yells at her and says, "I hate you." Most of the time they play together just fine, but it's those other times that drive me insane. I had a second child so that my older daughter would have a playmate. How can I help her be nicer to her sister?
Sibling rivalry is a complicated issue that has fascinated us since the beginning of time. There are scientific articles, textbooks, biblical stories, novels, television programs, and films on the subject, but no one has figured out how to keep it from happening. Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to figure out why your older daughter resents her little sister, focus on addressing the behavior.
Consider having regular family meetings to increase communication and bring family members closer to one another. In the meetings, every person has a chance to talk about his or her concerns, needs, accomplishments, and activities. Each person is listened to with respect, no matter his or her age or ability to speak. Prior to the first meeting, parents should create a list of “family rules.” Here are some pointers:
For more tips, check out Our Family Meeting Book: Fun and Easy Ways to Manage Time, Build Communication, and Share Responsibility Week by Week, by Elaine Hightower and Betsy Riley.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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