It’s Like a Math Equation.
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2 single parents + 2 only children (with absent “other” parents) = 4 VERY Stressed Out In People and A LOT of Step-sibling Rivalry!
Ever heard of Step-sibling Rivalry? Its much like sibling rivalry but I am convinced its MUCH more intense, and dramatized! At our home it usually ends up with kids much to old to be whining, whining.
Ugh is it just me or does anyone else get SO irritated when a 7 & 8 year old start whining worse than my 3 year old does. Over dumb stuff too! I despise whining!
For the record I am not referring to them getting hurt physically or being actually sad, I am talking about the “i am not getting my way so I am going to sit here and whine/sulk/pout with my lip poked out until i don’t want to anymore” whining. It can literally ruin my entire mood if they keep on with it.
But anyway back to Step-sibling rivalry! Lets start with what it is.
Step-sibling Rivalry: is where the children we are referring to are step brother or step sister instead of Biological siblings AND they are feuding and CONSTANTLY trying to one up the other, and prove who is the best.
Personally, I cannot stand it, and I wont take part in it. I won’t play “judge” with them or watch who “wins” a competition, why? Because whichever one does happen to win (despite getting in trouble & told not each time) still brags, and in a mean way. Then whoever looses, pouts, whines, and makes up excuses (which they too end up in trouble for).
They have gotten a little better, they are so close in age is probably why its worse than most. You see my bio daughter (oldest one) is 8 and my stepson is 7, and the baby who is both my husbands and my bio child is 3. I am telling you hardly EVER hear the baby fussing and whining but them two older ones, I just don’t know.
We get that they are jealous of one another but my husband and myself have even went overboard on keeping everything fair as can be because we were so tired of hearing, “that’s not fair” even though most times, it was completely fair.
Remember I am a very fair person. Which is what just truly baffles me about them, they know it doesn’t matter who wins, they aren’t gonna get anything more special than a Good job which is the SAME as what the other would of gotten if, they had won.
These two will even admit that we don’t treat them unfairly, and we do treat them the same. Yet, they continue to fuss everyday, some days a millions times worse than ever.
How to handle the Step-sibling Rivalry.
Have a family meeting. It is a great idea to meet with the whole family and talk about the new family dynamics. The children need to hear that both parents are excited about joining families and that the event is looked upon favorably. Highlight the positive aspects and include the children in the meeting. Ask them for their concerns and address them. Let them know it’s alright to have concerns and that there will be an adjustment period but things can go smoothly.
Set boundaries and consequences. Right up front you and your spouse should come up with boundaries and consequences for sibling rivalry. What will you do when your 10 year old screams “I hate you! I wish you never moved in!” to your spouse’s 6 year old? Trust me, there will be conflict that arises so you’ll need to be as prepared as you can with consequences to let the children know that unacceptable behaviors will not be tolerated. If you and your spouse have different parenting styles, then you’ll have to come to some sort of compromise because the children need consistency. Go ahead and make a list of boundaries and consequences and review it with your children.
Teach conflict resolution skills. If you can take the time to model and teach conflict resolution skills to your children while they’re young, they are more likely to carry them into adulthood. Be sure that you model positive resolution skills so that the children can observe and learn from you. Teach children to use their words appropriately to state their feelings instead of acting out or becoming physical. Help them to cope with anger in positive ways like going into their room to cool off, journaling, or going for a walk to calm down. Let them know that they can come to you and tell you if their sibling did something inappropriate to them. If you teach them that conflict can be resolved peacefully, they are more apt to respond appropriately when angry or hurt.
Give each child quality time. Some children might feel like they are not liked as much by the step-parent or that one sibling gets more attention than they do. This may cause them to act out against the sibling or perform inappropriate behaviors in general. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the quiet, obedient child when another child is in constant need of attention, but you must make time for all the children individually and corporately. Praise good behaviors and let the children know that you delight in them tremendously.
Schedule family time consistently. When you consistently spend time as a family doing fun activities, the siblings are less likely to argue with each other. Having fun with each other creates happy memories and pleasant feelings. Plenty of families rave about how family nights playing board games, eating pizza, and snuggling up to a movie together brings about peace and joy into the home. When family time is slim or doesn’t occur at all, it tends to cause more tension in the home, which can cause siblings to argue more.
It’s hard to tell how the siblings will get along when families combine, but if you follow these tips and handle issues as they arise, you should be just fine. If it gets to the point where you feel your actions aren’t helping at all, you could consult a family counselor to help you through it. Sibling rivalry will occur at times. Do what you can to enforce the boundaries and this should decrease the amount.
Have you dealt with a lot of Step-sibling Rivalry? What worked for you and what did not work? Tell us about it in the comments!!
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