My boys are always bringing me parenting challenges to conquer, and killing sibling rivalry has been an ever shifting issue in my house for years. The boys are really good friends, very close, which can sometimes be a challenge because they spend so much time together that they inevitably compare themselves in all ways.
When we were in the toddler stage, it was simpler. I would always have the boys hug and say I love you before bed, and apologize when they hurt each other or wouldn’t share, keeping in mind that their rivalry was totally age appropriate and also that Nick generally sucks at sharing.
As they got a little older, I was careful never to compare them in negative ways, like the old “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” philosophy that doesn’t work. I would always point out and celebrate their individual accomplishments and talents, usually at dinner, and this would sometimes be met with, “What about me?” and I would always tell them that it wasn’t a competition. While I tried to always make it even, the number of compliments and so on, I would also state, for example, Max is a very good swimmer, did you see him at lessons today, he was awesome! And when Nick would say what about me, I would say, we are talking about your brother now, did you see that dive he did, etc. Then, the next day I would bring up something great solely about Nick so as to avoid direct comparison.
Now that the boys are at an age that they are super pre-teens and very able to dissect behaviour, I will ask them to think up awesome things about each other that fosters a positive relationship. I will also point out when they do nice things for each other, and thank them for it, and they usually follow suit.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they are always positive about each other, in fact, I heard Max introduce Nick as his girly little sister just the other day, but fostering a positive, loving sibling environment is a parent’s job and it looks like I have some more work to do yet.
PS. The photo featured above of my boys is by Di Cozart Photography, Di is amazing!!! Her website is: