7 Counselling Activities for Sibling Rivalry

This blog will talk about seven interesting counselling activities for sibling rivalry. Readers will first learn about what sibling rivalry is and why it occurs. Then, we will dive deep into these activities and explain their relevance.

What are Counselling Activities for Sibling Rivalry?

Counselling activities for sibling rivalry address conflicts and interpersonal issues between siblings. These are meant to strengthen the bond between siblings and show them how to resolve conflicts healthily. 

A few examples of such activities are:

  • My Sibling’s Strengths
  • Sibling Venn Diagram
  • What Challenges Does My Sibling Face?
  • Funny Face Freeze
  • Sibling Trivia
  • What are my Boundaries?
  • Family Meetings

What is Sibling Rivalry?

Sibling rivalry is a highly common source of tension in the relationships between multiple children belonging to the same set of parents. It is generally characterised by jealousy, competition, and both verbal and physical fights.

A lot of siblings feel that they need to compete for their parents’ attention, affection, and validation. Even if this may not be true — you might be doing your best to appear unbiased — children may still develop a sibling rivalry.

Here are some common causes for why siblings start competing with each other:

  • They want to show that they are different from their siblings
  • They feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby
  • They have not reached the developmental stages that allow them to see things maturely
  • They are unaware of positive ways to get attention
  • Family dynamics cause them to feel liked less
  • If aggression and violence is considered normal in the household
  • Not spending enough quality time with the family
  • Stress
  • How parents react to sibling conflicts

7 Counselling Activities for Sibling Rivalry

In this section, we are going to talk about seven counselling activities that can help with sibling rivalry. These can be done in a counsellor’s office or at home with parents around to supervise.

My Sibling’s Strengths

There’s nothing as powerful as well-timed praise when it comes to improving relationships. While it may seem difficult to get antagonising siblings to say something nice about each other, if done in a structured way, it can lead to great results.

For this activity, the counsellor or parent needs to sit the siblings down in a comfortable space and explain the instructions. Each child must name 5 things that they admire about their sibling. If the word ‘admire’ is too much for them, ask them to objectively state facts that reflect the sibling’s strengths.

They must list their strengths down and then read them out in front of everyone else. Hearing their disliked sibling sincerely say nice things about them will make any sibling feel better. It will also encourage the children to look at things more positively.

Sibling Venn Diagram

This next activity requires some stationery: a pen, some paper, and things to colour with. Each sibling chooses a colour and starts listing down traits and interests they associate with their identity.

Once everyone is done writing down what defines them as a person, they must look for things that they have in common with their siblings. This will need some supervision because their negative bias may prevent them from seeing any similarities.

Next, they must work together and form a Venn diagram so that each sibling’s coloured circle meets all other circles in a space where their commonalities are written down. The visual of the diagram will help the kids realise that though they’re each their own person, they do have some common ground.

What Challenges Does My Sibling Face?

The biggest weapon against sibling rivalry is empathy. However, since many kids have not grown to the extent that they can make themselves experience empathy, they might need a bit of nudging.

This activity serves that purpose by asking siblings to put themselves in each other’s shoes. The task is simple, though not necessarily easy. Each child must think of their siblings’ day-to-day routine with the intent to recognise what challenges they face daily.

If they get stuck or start to mock, the supervisor must chip in and give the child being talked about a chance to explain their challenges. At this point, all siblings must listen carefully and imagine what they would feel like if they were in that position.

The idea is to encourage a healthy conversation that evokes compassion between the siblings. By the end of it, every child must be aware of how their sibling’s life can be difficulthealthily resolve conflicts so that they can stop adding to their struggles.

Funny Face Freeze

The Funny Face Freeze game is a light and fun activity to make siblings have a good time together. It takes their competitiveness and makes a fun game out of it. As the name suggests, each sibling must hold a funny face for as long as they can.

Whoever manages to avoid laughing first wins. Funny Face Freeze will push the kids to compete healthily and make the funniest face they possibly can. And besides, there are no losers in a game that makes you laugh so hard.

Sibling Trivia

Another fun activity to promote bonding between siblings is this trivia game. Though some siblings may at times seem like mortal enemies, surprisingly they may know each other better than anyone else.

The Sibling Trivia game is an excellent way to remind them of that fact. Each sibling must list down a set of questions about their likes, dislikes, past experiences, and dreams for the future.

Then, going one by one, they must ask the other siblings these questions and see if they are able to answer them correctly. Whoever gets the highest number of correct answers is the winner. 

What are my Boundaries?

For any relationship to last and be healthy, there must be clearly stated boundaries that are respected. As children, siblings might be aware of a few boundaries (it’s hard to be ignorant when someone yells these at the top of their lungs), but they may not be aware that the boundaries must be respected.

This activity is a group meeting with all siblings present and the counsellor or parents supervising. Each child must state what boundaries they would like to establish. If their requests are reasonable, they must be accepted.

Whenever the requests are a bit much, the supervisor must help them reach a compromise. The system of boundaries can be strengthened by using a token economy. When a sibling sticks to the agreement for let’s say 10 times, the sibling whose boundary it is must offer a reward of some sort.

Family Meetings

Last, but not least, it’s always a great idea to have weekly, fortnightly, or monthly meetings where every family member gets a chance to speak and be heard. Not only will this promote communication and fairness in the house, but it’ll also be an opportunity for everyone to bond with each other.

These meetings must be designed in a way that allows everyone to report their grievances, needs, desires, and thoughts. Parents must set an example and encourage the children to practice gratitude for each other.

If there is a conflict at any point, what the parents say goes. However, all children do get heard and acknowledged if they do have opinions regarding the matter.

Conclusion

This blog talked about seven interesting counselling activities for sibling rivalry. Readers first learned about what sibling rivalry is and why it occurs. Then, we dove deep into these activities and explained their relevance.

The counselling activities mentioned here were My Sibling’s Strengths, Sibling Venn Diagram, What Challenges Does My Sibling Face?, Funny Face Freeze, Sibling Trivia, What are my Boundaries?, and Family Meetings.

FAQs (Counselling Activities for Sibling Rivalry)

What are positive ways to deal with sibling rivalry?

Here is a quick list of some positive ways to handle sibling rivalries:

  • Stay calm
  • Remember, you’re in charge
  • Create an environment of cooperation
  • Be fair with all children
  • Pay attention to your children so you can intervene before something escalates
  • Celebrate each child’s individuality
  • Spend quality time with all children together

How do you tame a sibling rivalry?

Often, taming sibling rivalry requires active participation from both parents for it to be successful. Children need to be shown how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. This can only be taught if you lead by example. You cannot expect your children to stop fighting amongst themselves if you and your spouse do not represent a unified front, capable of empathy and teamwork.

How do you encourage sibling bonding?

Here are some tips on how to encourage bonding between siblings:

  • Treat all children fairly; don’t pick favourites
  • Show them how to respectfully disagree
  • Have regular family bonding activities
  • Show children how to appreciate each other’s uniqueness
  • Instruct them to do chores in teams
  • Listen attentively to each child when they’re talking about their issues
  • Model how to respect other people

References