What can a parent do when one of your children wishes their sibling didn’t exist

It can be extremely confronting for a parent to hear their child so dislikes their sibling. Parents feel love for all their children and simply want them all to get along and hopefully like each other. When one child really seems to dislike their sibling to the point they wished they were never born how then do we manage this.

There can be a variety of reasons why one child may feel this way about their sibling. One sibling may feel overlooked by parents creating jealousy. One may feel they are less special than their sibling or less capable. This can create a feeling of resentment and they only feel if their sibling wasn’t there, they may get the attention the want and need. One may feel bullied or intimidated by their sibling regardless if they are older or younger. This can make it very difficult for parents who love both their children equally.

How not to react when your child does not want their sibling in their family:

  • Never tell them their feelings are wrong
  • Do not become angry or upset
  • Listen and acknowledge these feelings as legitimate to them
  • Never dismiss their feelings or emotions even if they do not make sense to you – they do to them
  • Ignoring it may only escalate their anger

How do parents handle this and what can we do:

Be curious. Sit quietly with the child who does not like their sibling and ask questions such as:

  1. What is the reason you feel this way?
  2. What is it you need your sister / brother to do so you can feel differently?
  3. Is there anything that has happened to make you feel like this?
  4. How can you do something to feel differently
  5. What do you need from me to help you

Address the answers to these questions unemotionally. Do not show emotion or shock as often these answers are to invoke a reaction in the parent where the child can gain the attention they often want. Respond to the child logically and always work toward finding a solution to the problems the child creates and speaks about.

When speaking about solutions, always offer at least two choices so the child can choose the one that best fits them. This may be something like they hate the other child coming into their room all the time or touching their items. The solution for older children can be a small lock on the child’s door out of reach of the sibling or special items placed into cupboards with a small lock so they can’t be accessed.

For younger children it may be the sibling can select one item each week of their sibling to play with for a limited time. If they encroach on their other items they lose this privilege for that week. It may be they go to time out away from each other if one of them starts to escalate an issue or behave in an unacceptable manner. It may result in consequences being enforced if one child behaving unfairly toward another. There are many options available to parents.

There is also then an issue if mum and dad argue and fight a lot. If parents are demonstrating this behaviour they are teaching their children the way to communicate is by yelling or demeaning another person. A child will copy this believing this is how we demonstrate we are not happy with the other person.

Naturally the best option is to have the children accept each other and focus on the positive aspects of their sibling instead of the negatives only. Usually one child has a strength in one area and this can sometimes be utilised to aid the other child at times so they understand there is benefits in having them around.

Mediation is imperative. Allowing the children to understand they are both unique and different individuals and just because they are different does not make one of them right and one wrong, just different. This is a learning curve in life. The sooner we all can understand each of us is an individuals with our own thoughts, responses and personality the better placed we are.  Point out if child is older that all through life they will meet with people who are diverse from them. Acceptance is a gift that is learned and modelled by parents.

If one sibling is giving the other a difficult time or is picking on or bullying them, this is slightly different and steps to protect the victim is a necessity.

All children must feel safe in their home environment and creating this safety is essential.

Read full article at Essential Kids

More Blogs can be read at Dr Karen Phillip

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