Do traditional festivals that celebrate relationships have any meaning in our fast paced lives today??
Rakhi – the Indian festival that was traditionally meant to celebrate the brother sister bond – but now symbolizes sibling love is around the corner.
But does it mean anything anymore – or has it become a day to just to wear fancy clothes, eat delicious food, receive expensive gifts and post social media updates?
In many homes the festival of Rakhi is a daylong difficult ceasefire – an uneasy truce – that is maintained between the siblings for a while. Parents watch with bated breath and give out warning glances to prevent brother sister fights from breaking out. And they resign themselves to the inevitable when the omnipresent sibling rivalry takes over the next day.
So, should Rakhi end sibling rivalry and fights? Is that really the purpose of the festival? Is it even possible to end sibling rivalry? Should one even try?
What is the reason for sibling rivalry?
Sibling rivalry arises out of competition. Siblings compete for an equal share of limited family resources. They could be competing for the TV remote, the bathroom, the chocolate in the fridge or for the love and attention of the parents.
It is impossible to eliminate competition when there are limited resources. However, situations of scarcity and limitations are the golden opportunity to teach important life lessons.
This Rakhi – rethink the festival – celebrate it slightly differently – make the effort to stop sibling rivalry.
10 ways to manage sibling rivalry this year
Give your children attention
A lot of sibling rivalry arises out of the belief that one or both parents love the other child more. This Rakhi spend time individually with each of your children so that neither feels deprived of love and attention.
Don’t attempt equality
Children are fighting for equality. Why can she have what I can’t? Why can’t I do what he can? These questions give rise to sibling rivalry. It is impossible to treat any two children alike. The older ones are sure to have more freedom and the younger ones more forgiveness. So how can you manage sibling rivalry? Instead of constantly trying to make things equal – teach them to rejoice for each other. “Look Didi is going for the camp – let’s go get her a good luck gift” is a conversation you can have with your younger one.
Every child will have some good qualities and some not so desirable ones. Even if one of your children seems like an angel – don’t criticise or compare with the other one. Instead celebrate and emphasise how each of them is unique through your words and actions
Talk about Empathy
Rivalry and envy arise because of the lack of empathy. Coping with sibling rivalry requires empathy. Having a sibling is the golden opportunity to build empathy. Have a conversation with each of your children helping them to see the other’s difficulties and challenges.
While Rakhi is about giving gifts – it has slowly become only about giving expensive gifts on the day of the festival and refusing to share for the rest of the year. Talk to your children about sharing and how it doubles our joy instead of dividing it in half. A ball is just a toy until you share it with another child and begin to toss it around. Give your children such examples of what they can share all year around to find more happiness
Teach Communication, negotiation and compromise
It is impossible not to have disagreements. Any two people living in close proximity are bound to have some disagreements. This year help your children to learn how to communicate their unhappiness and desires. Teach them that hitting and shouting are pointless. Instead negotiation can do wonders and it is best to learn and perfect the art of negotiation. Teach your children how to treat arguments like organised debates and help children build their vocabulary so that they can put their point across without being abrasive.
It is not enough to love. There can be no love without respect. Teach your children that love does not mean invading personal space and grabbing possessions and thinking that it is your right because you love someone. Teach your children to respect each other’s space and possessions for happy coexistence
Discuss and modify rules
Many a times children are not happy because they think their siblings are not subject to the same rules that they are. So an older child may be unhappy that the younger one is never scolded for hitting whereas the same rule does not apply to her/him. This Rakhi – discuss the house rules, allow your children to have a say but ensure that the rules apply equally.
Show children the value of relationships
Festivals are the best times to bond and show the warmth and love that the relationships deserve. Relationships keep us grounded, they nurture us and offer the courage we need to take that leap of faith. Tell your children stories about how the relationships you have invested in through your life that have earned you rich dividends. Explain how nurturing relationships takes time patience and sacrifice – but how nurtured relationships grow into invaluable possessions unlike material gifts that depreciate in value very quickly.
Make the festival about celebrating all bonds
Traditionally Rakhi celebrated only the brother sister bond – however the transition has already been made and the festival now celebrates the bond between sisters, the bond between brothers and the bond between friends (however disparate they may be in age). Encourage this evolution and make the festival about relationships and commitments
Every festival is the time to pause and rethink our approach to life and to the people who make up our lives.
Children learn from our behaviour the most and hence let us take time out of our busy schedule to reach out to the people who matter to us and spend time and effort to show them how much we care for them/ love them.
Let us practice what we preach because children learn the most from what we do.