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Sibling Harmony: Help Your Kids Get Along

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Sibling Gripes

Sibling rivalry: My daughter gripes that her kid sisters get to have things -- like a cell phone and a later bedtime -- that she never did. It's partly because we're more relaxed parents. But my younger girls are more mature because their big sister blazed the way. Do we need to hold back on our younger girls on principle?

Sibling revelry: "Treating kids equally is usually not possible," says Katherine Jewsbury Conger, PhD, professor of human development and family studies at University of California, Davis. What matters is that kids perceive that they are being treated fairly. Acknowledge your older daughter's feelings, then speak candidly about why you've made the decisions you have, giving her a vote of confidence at the same time ("You handled these privileges so well, which is why we thought your sisters could handle them sooner"). Then ask if there's anything she wants. "She might request a 12 p.m. curfew and you'll need to go over why that may not be a great idea," says Faber. Regardless, the point is that you treat her as an individual.