Parents with just one child miss out on the "joy" of homeschool sibling rivalry. When there are 2 or more children, you have a great potential for conflict because everyone has their idea of how things should be done. In a family, people are more verbal and physical about expressing their opinions.
This rivalry CAN be dealt with by using the stop-stop-start method:
If you think about it, sibling rivalry really gets fueled by meanness. Animosity develops and the meanness gets returned and keeps going until someone steps in and stops it. When meanness between siblings is not tolerated, there is much less fuel for fighting.
I suggest you make it extremely uncomfortable for a child to exhibit meanness to their siblings. You know your children and what motivates them to stop a negative behavior.
For a child that likes to run around and be active, sitting in a chair when they are mean to a sibling might be all the motivation they need to stop being mean. If they know that every time the are mean they will have to sit in a chair for 30 minutes (or whatever time you choose), they will probably decide that being mean is not worth their time.
In our house, we have the stop rule. If 2 or more members of the family are interacting and 1 person says "stop", then whatever is being done to that person needs to stop. If a child is being touched or bothered by another sibling (or parent) and the child says "stop", then the offender has to stop. This includes "tickle time" where Mom sits in the middle of the room and children run around and try not to get "captured". When they get "captured" they enjoy being tickled. I always make sure I stop when the child says "stop". This teaches them that they have a voice and it teaches the other person to respect someone else's words.
As the meanness at your house drifts away you can start talking about showing each other respect. When we value each other and show respect we are thinking of others and how we can serve them.
If you watch any of the Super Nanny or Nanny 911 TV shows, you will see that meanness is stopped and respect is instituted. It's a great show to watch as a teaching tool. Sometimes people can see things in other people that they don't realize they themselves are doing. We have always learned a lot about family dynamics and discipline from this show. This show is not necessarily about homeschool sibling rivalry, but you will learn some great coping techniques and ideas from this Nanny!
Many times homeschool problems can be traced back to rivalry and relationships. If you can get the relationships in your home to be better, many times everything else runs better too.
Here are some of my favorite parenting books that have helped me deal with fighting and a host of other parenting issues:
The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are
By Dr. Kevin Leman / Baker
Whether you're the firstborn, a middle child, or the baby of the family, your place in line can influence who you are and what you do! Explore the effects of birth order on personality development, marriage, parenting style, and career. Dr. Leman's bestseller will help you recognize, understand, and overcome negative tendencies shaped by family environment.
Boundaries with Kids
By Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend / Zondervan
To help their children grow into healthy adults, parents need to teach them how to take responsibility for their behavior, their values, and their lives. The authors of the Gold Medallion Award-winning book Boundaries bring their biblically based principles to bear on the challenging task of child rearing, showing parents: how to bring control to an out-of-control family life; how to set limits and still be loving parents; how to define legitimate boundaries for the family; how to install in children a godly character.
Educating the Whole Hearted Child
By Clay Clarkson / Whole Heart Press
A tremendous source of comfort for new and experienced homeschoolers. Guiding you with seasoned advice and lots of encouragement, the Clarksons show you how to combine discipleship and education to create a God-designed program---the home-centered, whole-book learning approach. Using this method will help shape your children's hearts and minds to live and learn for Christ. 197 pages, softcover from Whole Heart Ministries.
Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours
By Dr. Kevin Leman / Baker
Anybody who believes child-rearing is easy probably doesn't have any. In this newly revised and updated bestseller, Dr. Leman-author of "The Birth Order Book"- offers 7 Scripture-based principles of "Reality Discipline" that make parenting easier. Discover a loving, no- nonsense approach that really works, including a study guide.
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook
By Raymond Moore / Thomas Nelson
Whether you're just beginning your homeschooling journey, or are already many years into the experience, this handbook has something for all. Each chapter deals with a topic that homeschoolers in particular face, whether the standard question of socialization to lesson plans to perfectionism to homeschool sibling rivalry. Each topic and many chapters are filled with anecdotes and personal testimony of the Moore's homeschooling experience, and those who have been affected by their ministry. Refreshing and practical all at once, this creative approach to homeschooling will encourage you as you persevere in your goals. 300 pages, softcover.