When dealing with sibling rivalry it is always important to be fair and
not jump to conclusions. It is also very important to remain neutral. One
must also deal with conflicts objectively, so as not to allow your own
problems get in the way and worsen the conflict. These rules go for both
parents and baby sitters and should always be kept in mind when dealing
with such situations.
One of the roots of sibling rivalry is jealousy. Another is fear. When the
rivalry is between a baby and a toddler it may be because the toddler is
jealous about the attention his brother is receiving or out of fear that he
will receive less attention now that his mother is caring for his brother.
In such a situation the older brother may act violently toward his younger
brother in the absence of an adult. In such a situation there are different
theories about what to do. Some say that a parent should allow them to work
it out by themselves (unless the baby is too young). The instinctive
reaction is to scold the older brother and “baby” the younger brother. This
helps neither brother. The younger brother feels more dependent, which
damages his self-image, while it makes the older brother resent the
attention his younger brother receives even more.
In this situation my personal belief is that a person should calmly
explain to the older brother that what he did was wrong, but forgivable.
You should also explain why it was wrong in a way the child can understand.
In my opinion the worst thing a person could do in this situation is to
force the child to apologize. It will reestablish that what he did was
wrong, and, since his baby brother is not able to respond, will make him
feel even more guilty. The apology will also be insincere unless it is
explained to the child why what he did was wrong. The guilt the child feels
will also be translated into a facade of other feelings. I believe it is
most likely that the dominant feeling would be even more anger toward his
younger brother. In my opinion, older children would be able to work out
their arguments for themselves if they are separated and forced to present
their reasoning (with the help of an adult to translate).
Punishment is also a hard topic to deal with. Not giving punishment would
tell a child it is okay to bully someone weaker. A harsh punishment would
only amplify the tension between the siblings. I believe that punishments
should be fair, and, when assigning them, be sure that the child being
punished understands that he is not being punished because of his brother,
but because he knew his actions were wrong and committed them anyway. If
the child was ignorant that his actions were wrong, I believe you should
explain to them why their action was wrong and suggest another way of with
dealing with his situation, oppose to punishment.
Sibling rivalry is unavoidable, but can probably be lessened by treating
children equally, not jumping to conclusions, and helping children
establish a firm morale base which they adhere to.