ways parents can address sibling bullying

Put an End to Aggressive Behavior
If your children react to one another in aggressive ways including hitting and pushing and even name-calling, you need to intervene immediately.

Tell them that aggressive and mean behavior will not be tolerated. Then, discipline your child for bullying. Teach your kids how to treat one another with respect even when they disagree. And show them how to relate with one another in healthy ways. When you do so, you are giving them the opportunity to practice healthy relationship skills in a safe environment with people that love them unconditionally.

Hold the Bully Responsible
It is essential that your kids know that the choice to bully is theirs, regardless of the reason behind it. Emphasize that bullying causes pain for their brothers and sisters and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions. To ensure that they understand this, be sure your children can repeat back what they did wrong. Then implement appropriate consequences.

For instance, should your child be grounded? Is an apology needed? Should he lose a privilege?

The answer will depend on the severity of the bullying incident and your parenting style. But the key is to do something to ensure that your child understands that bullying is unacceptable.

Diffuse Jealousy
Although jealousy is a normal human emotion, it can be exacerbated if you don’t praise your children equally.

Be sure that each child receives recognition, love, and acceptance and avoid comparisons at all costs. You also should avoid labeling or categorizing your children. In other words, do not call them “the athletic one,” “the smart one,” and so on. Doing so only breeds envy and contempt.

Always point out your kids’ good characteristics. Mention concrete things that you saw or heard them do. Let them know you value their efforts as much as their siblings’ efforts. Remember, when your kids receive compliments from you, what they experience is affection. The more compliments you give your children, the more affection they feel. They also will feel like they are being recognized and that their needs are being met. When this happens, there is less need to bully others.