How to Deal with Sibling Rivalries


in Parenting Kids, Parenting Teens, Siblings


At some point everyone has an argument with their sibling. Sometimes these rivalries are tame and other times they can be quite serious. If you are a parent of more than one child chances are that you have witnessed a rivalry of some kind first hand. In fact, you are probably looking to find suggestions for how you can deal with sibling rivalries.


Fortunately there are some things that you can try when working to reduce sibling rivalries. Although it is unrealistic to expect for every method to work, you should have an open mind about trying new techniques. You should also realize that there is no rapid course of recovery when it comes to dealing with sibling rivalries. It may take a long time to see some progress. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Tips for how to deal with sibling rivalries

Teach problem solving skills – Teaching your children is one of your primary responsibilities as a parent. As you know it takes repetition and a lot of patience to teach children. Problem solving skills consist of many elements. In order to solve a problem a sibling must be understanding and willing to compromise. Also, empathy is a huge part of not only solving problems but preventing them from re-occurring. Remind children to remain calm and to think before they act.

Set some ground rules – Children are going to argue and it may take years before either they grow out of their rival or they learn how to handle their problems rationally. So for the meanwhile, it is important that boundaries or ground rules are set regarding arguing. Some examples would be that there is never an excuse for physical violence no matter who is right and who is wrong. Other rules might include that yelling is not acceptable or that destruction of someone else’s belongings will not be tolerated. You may not be able to prevent all arguments, but having rules will at least help to eliminate the nastiest arguments.

Focus on sharing – Siblings often turn into rivals simply because they are always in such close proximity. Sharing is a huge part of living under one roof and as it is logistically and financially impossible for most to completely separate their children from each other, they must learn how to share. Sharing can be a complicated issue as some things should be shared and other things should not be shared. For example, it is not necessary for a fourteen year old daughter to be expected to share her lip-gloss collection with her six year old sister. There are just some things that should be off-limits. Keep these exceptions in mind as you teach your children about sharing

Only intervene when absolutely necessary – After teaching your children about solving their own conflicts, sharing, and following the rules about arguments that you have established, give them some room to learn through experience how to put these lessons into action. If you intervene into every argument, how are they ever supposed to learn how to handle disputes on their own? Experts suggest that parents only take control when there is a threat of physical or emotional harm.


Help in dealing with sibling rivalries is available in many forms. Child psychologists and family therapists could provide insight to your specific family situation that could be very helpful to you. If you would rather not see a professional, ask for the suggestions of friends with children who are going through the same types of rivalries. Ask what worked for their family (and learn from what did not work).

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