• P.E.T. South Africa

Sibling rivalry: The benefits of being a parent-facilitator

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

No parent likes seeing their children argue. Even less do they like being dragged into the battle. But all too often parents find themselves smack in the middle of their children’s power struggles either forced to take sides, play judge, or expected to take control.

With the family holed up at home during a global pandemic, chances for sibling rivalry is rife. The last thing a household needs is more tension in the air. More importantly, parents are also concerned about their children’s relationships with each other.

So, what can be done? Well, the good news is that parents can help without becoming muddled in the mess. It will take patience, emotional and mental strength, but in time and with the right skills, you can learn how to effectively facilitate your children to solve their own problems. Here are three benefits to becoming an effective parent-facilitator.


The problem stays between the children

As a parent-facilitator, your primary goal is to encourage your children to address each other directly and not through you. This will require a lot of Active Listening from the parent at first and especially during a loaded argument.


Active Listening is a special way of reflecting back what the other person has expressed to let him/her know you are listening and to check your understanding of his/her meaning. - Georgina Watson

The parent-facilitator's purpose is to help the children decode these angry words to get to the root of the argument. Once the messages from both sides are clearer, the children will find it easier to resolve the problem on their own.

Children learn effective problem-solving skills

Children need to be allowed the opportunity to solve their own problems. How else will they ever learn to manage future relationship problems? Therefore, parents mustn’t take ownership of their children’s problems but rather act as a mediator. Children do tend to resolve problems on their own and will only on occasion need some guidance from the parent to unpack the bigger issue.

Mutual respect amongst family members

Children learn to take ownership of their problems and not to expect others (parents) to solve these problems for them. In return, parents aren’t being emotionally loaded with feelings of guilt and resentment for picking sides or using their power over their children. Every member of the family has a responsibility to maintain and build relationships of mutual respect even during times of disagreement.

Dr T