Part of fostering healthy sibling relationships means celebrating each child’s individuality and trying your best to refrain from comparing your children to one another.
Sibling comparisons may look like saying things such as, “Your brother comes home from school and does his homework right away. Why can’t you be more like him?” This can lower self-esteem and lead to feelings of shame and guilt for the child who is being compared to their sibling. Comparing siblings can also lead to sibling rivalry, spark feelings of resentment between siblings, and create a rift in the relationship. If you’ve compared your children in the past or catch yourself doing it in the future, know that you’re not the only parent finding yourself in this situation. Parenting is hard and making mistakes comes with the territory of having kids. What matters is how you handle your mistakes and what choices you make moving forward. Acknowledge the times you have compared your children and offer an apology. Not only is this a great opportunity for healing, but it’s also an opportunity to model to your kids how to take responsibility and apologize for their mistakes.
You can also support a healthy relationship between your kids by encouraging them to embrace and appreciate one another’s differences. Siblings have different interests, personalities, talents, and abilities, and sometimes, it can be hard for them to understand these differences. This can lead to potential conflict, especially when siblings aren’t interested in the same things or approach situations differently due to their unique personalities and temperaments. As a parent, you can have conversations with your children about the importance of respecting one another’s differences, even if they don’t always make sense. When you teach your kids to love and respect one another despite their differences, you are helping them develop lifelong skills to not only strengthen their relationship with one another, but to also build healthy relationships of all kinds in the future!