Rivalry Among Cousins: How To Handle It?

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Children like to be the center of attention. And whenever another child, be it a sibling, a cousin, or a friend, are with them, chances are that they will start feeling pangs of jealousy. This can manifest in many ways— a competition to gain more attention, not sharing their belongings, and in the worst-case scenario, going for each other’s neck in a fight! While it’s easy for us to break the quarrel when they are toddlers, handling a tiff between slightly older kids or teenagers could prove to be difficult. Though rivalry among cousins and siblings is inevitable at times, there are ways to better manage the little devils.

The first step in resolving rivalry among kids is to accept the fact that it is a totally normal thing. Beating yourself up or blaming your own parenting skill won’t yield anything and instead will just dampen your mood. As elders, we just need to teach the younglings how to conduct themselves and not resort to their base behavior. So let’s dive in and learn more about how to handle quarrels among cousins:

Step To Reduce Rivalry Between Your Siblings And Cousins

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Here are a few steps that you can follow to reduce the rivalry between your kids or between your children and their cousins. If anyone can help these situations, it is you, so here you go:

1. It May Be Tempting But Do Not Take Sides

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Take a completely neutral stand while listening to the grievances of all the parties involved. Listen to both the children if they get into a severe tiff and walk away if it is a regular argument. Most of the time fights end in less time when no attention is given to them. Getting in between and explaining who is right and wrong will make them think you are partial or sometimes unfair. But at times when you have to intervene, don’t blame one over the other even if you know who is wrong. If one of them is totally at fault, you can have a one-on-one conversation with them and try to make them see the wrong they have done. Let them come up with viable solutions to the issue and see if any one of them starts realizing the mistake they have committed. If they are unable to find it, then you can suggest a few and help them to end the fight.

2. Don’t Compare Them To One Another

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When you compare the performances between children, be it studies or sports, there is bound to develop feelings of competitiveness and rivalry between them. Instead of such mindless comparisons, elders should try to encourage kids for what they are good at and comfortable doing. Let all your children and their cousins feel that their parent’s love and affection come without conditions and their ability to achieve things. Every child comes with a different set of capabilities; one can be quick at expressing something, while the other may take their own time. Be kind and respectful of who they are. Cheer for their positives as every child of yours should get the opportunity to shine.

3. Give Individual Attention

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Give your undivided attention to your child, as well as the other kid under your watch, and try to do that separately for each. Getting such individual attention from you would drive away their inhibitions and the fear that the other child is more important. Children enjoy being the center of our attention and rightfully so. You can also engage them in some fun activity, something the child particularly enjoys. But you have to be careful not to cause jealousy while engaging in such a one-on-one. A clever way to go about it would be to have individual sessions with one when the other is occupied with some other activity. As your emotional connection with your child grows through this habit, they will not try to get attention by negative means.

4. Don’t Forget To Set Rules

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Make family rules to avoid rivalry. Setting rules is an effective parental strategy as it makes kids aware in advance of the mannerisms of communication in their home. In this case, even if they fight, they will do that within the limits of those pre-decided rules. It can help in avoiding the stages where they get physical or abusive with each other. Also, this will decide their tone and words in their communication. The rules could include things such as no hitting, treating each other with respect, expressing concerns in a civil manner, to name a few. It would help if you, as an adult, follow the same rules and set an example in front of the kids. Intervene in case they lose control and remind them of these rules if need be.

5. Introduce Them To Conflict Resolution

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Instead of getting into the middle of their fight, teach them conflict resolution strategies (1). It is a skill for life. It essentially includes sitting and expressing your point of view and listening to the other person’s point of view. You then find all possible solutions and calming down techniques after fighting or an angry outburst. Problem-solving approaches will make them feel independent and capable. This way, they won’t have to run to you with complaints to resolve their issues. You might see a decrease in the number of fights and outpouring of negative emotions too.

6. Settle On A Family Fun Time

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What happens when you have a family fun time as part of your routine? Your children get enough chances to connect with their family (including siblings too), and because of the fun element, they look forward to it. Fun is the essential ingredient to connect with kids. They want to be part of everything that gives them a fun time. Spend this time by playing board games, going out, or watching cartoon movies together. Team games can also bring up situations where they have to defend or support their sibling. In addition, they will make good memories for the time to come.
Before you begin to teach your kids about proper behavior, you must practice it. The foremost requirement is to have patience. Because even after learning, problem-solving strategies, and positive behaviors, they might fail at times to bring it to fruition. Do not feel discouraged, instead give them a second chance. Do you have any more suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

References:

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  1. The Effect of Conflict Resolution Training on Children’s Behavioral Problems in Shiraz Southern Iran: A Randomized Controlled Trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201203/
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