Pregnancy and Parenting Features

How to Resolve Sibling Rivalry

Fighting Siblings


We’ve talked before about sibling rivalry, and how it can be frustrating and even a little bit strange for parents to see. Sibling rivalry, when left unchecked, can lead to a lifetime of resentment and difficulty between siblings. As parents, it’s our job to help encourage our children to learn conflict resolution skills and to be able to handle sibling rivalry when it arises.

Of course, that’s often easier said than done. Here are some tips to get you through resolving the conflicts of sibling rivalry:

  • Don’t show favoritism. While a parent may get along better with one sibling or the other, it’s important that you treat your children equitably. Inequitable treatment, or at least the perception of inequitable treatment, is one of the deepest causes of sibling rivalry.
  • Don’t compare your children. Your children are unique individuals. They have different interests, skills, abilities and challenges. Learn to recognize and value each child for their uniqueness.
  • Encourage cooperation not competition. Siblings will find plenty of ways to compete on their own. When you deal with siblings, try to create situations where they work together, instead of against each other. For example, if you want them to clean their rooms don’t offer a monetary reward to the first one done; instead offer a monetary reward to both once both rooms are done.
  • Look for patterns. Learn to recognize whether it’s a certain time of day when conflicts happen. It might be that your children tend to aggravate each other just before dinner time, or maybe at bedtime. Consider changing your routine so that your children have something else to do during the time when they normally fight.
  • Spend time together as a family. Try to create opportunities for everyone in the family to enjoy one another’s company. Positive experiences together will help siblings get along better during the difficult times. It’s easier to work through a problem when you’re working through it with someone who has the same shared positive memories.

A certain amount of sibling rivalry is normal and even healthy. It reflects the fact that your children are learning how to relate to other people. If sibling rivalry becomes severe, however, it can cause lifelong problems. How you address it now will help determine your children’s future.