How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry

how to deal with sibling rivalry
The cold war usually feeds off the idea of the new baby taking up almost all of mum’s time [Photo Credit: Unsplash]
All kids fight, but siblings fight more. This is why you need to know how to resolve sibling rivalry as early as you can.

Truly, as children grow into their own personalities, it is inevitable that fighting with other children in the family will periodically break out.

Looking to learn how to deal with sibling rivalry in the best way possible?

Read on to learn some simple steps you can take to diminish the outbursts and build long-lasting sibling bonds between your youngsters. 

1.       Start The Process Early

It will help to begin the bonding process between siblings even before the birth of a new sibling.

Have conversations about all the good things that will come from having a new baby in the family.

Allowing them to feel the baby moving inside of mum’s tummy, can also help with the bonding process.

Update them on the growth that is occurring to the baby while in the belly.

You can show them pictures of the ultrasound and how a baby looks in mummy’s belly, and point out things like how “baby is growing hair while inside mummy’s tummy or how a baby can suck his thumb now”.

You’re looking to make the baby as much of a reality as possible.

You can also go through their own pictures of when they were newborns and point out how they looked when they were a baby.

This will help them relate to and bond better with the new baby.

2.     Keep Emotional Conflicts At Bay

When the new baby arrives, do your best not to start a cold war by shifting all of your attention to the newborn.

You can balance it up by allowing the siblings to open any gifts presented to the baby.

It is important that you make the other sibling(s) at least feel that they are an important part of this gift-giving process that is occurring.

They can examine and test out the new gifts.

Ensure you include children in as much of the child care process as possible.

The cold war usually feeds off the idea of the new baby taking up almost all of mum’s time; diffuse this before it even starts.

By incorporating them into as much time spent with the new baby as possible, you will be able to help to avoid feelings of replacement.

Teach your older child/ren ways to handle their emotions without exploding.

Encourage them to speak about how they are feeling when becoming upset or agitated, and encourage good behavior e.g., when they display empathy and good intentions for their siblings, by praising or rewarding them for their efforts.

3.      Set Guidelines

Have set rules in place. This will save you from loads of tantrums and incessant sibling rivalry dispute settlement.

Unless it is spelled out and enforced, children oftentimes won’t know what will be tolerated and what won’t be.

And after they’ve been spelled out, do your best to make a habit of compromising on them based on your mood.  i.e., stray as much as possible from what constitutes a broken rule.

In my experience, children learn early on how to manipulate and twist words to benefit themselves.

Set clear consequences for certain actions and once a rule has been broken, always enforce the consequences.

Bear in mind that children do not have to be treated equally.

Age differences should be taken into consideration as chastising a 10-year-old with the same consequences given to a 3-year-old in most cases, is just not practical.

4.      Treat Your Children As Distinct Individuals

Going places together, doing and-co (wearing matching outfits), and all that is cute, but at some point, children want to feel separate from their siblings.

They will develop their own interests, tastes, skills, and talents to develop their sense of self.

Indeed, this will help your child form a healthy identity separate from his or her sibling.

You are to welcome and encourage this by treating each of your children as distinct individuals.

In truth, this can be a lot of work and tough to balance, but necessary, for the sake of peace between your children.

It even gets tougher if you happen to share an interest with one child that you do not share with the other.

Regardless, do your best to give each child’s interests equal attention.

You want to avoid any behavior that could make it look as if you’re playing favorites—that is usually the sibling rivalry trigger.

5.      Avoid Comparisons

Unless you want to set the atmosphere for sibling rivalry yourself, never compare one child to another. Not even in moments of frustration.

Chances are – your children have different abilities. One child may excel at math, while another excels at biology.


You may also love to read: How To Review Your Child’s Report Card [Important Points To Note]


Avoid comparing your child’s abilities; instead, praise each child equally for his or her unique skills.

Always keep the focus on the particular child when praising him or her for skills.

If you must, to maybe help your children see how you want them to behave, try pointing to adults as models of good behavior instead of their older siblings.

For example, you might say to your child, “See how Uncle Thomas or dad always says “please” and “thank you” when he needs something? That’s very polite. I’ll like you to be polite as well.”

6.      Learn To Resolve Conflicts Diplomatically

The last thing you want is to intervene in a way that makes it look like you’re taking sides.

Always try to have win-win negotiations.

If your kids start picking on one another, remind them to express their feelings respectfully.

For arguments like; “she started it.” You might respond with something like, “regardless of who started it, you two need to work this out.”

Intervene when absolutely necessary.

You cannot let every argument or dispute get worked out between your children.

At times, you will need to step in and break up disputes. E.g., situations like fights between siblings require intervention.

If they are hurting one another, butt in and separate them immediately.

7.      Listen To Each Child

It’s normal for siblings to feel frustrated with one another, and you need to let your children vent such frustrations, in which case you are to listen objectively, with the goal of offering solutions rather than stirring up conflict.

One-on-one attention is very important to every child.

Let your child tell you about any insecurities or frustrations he or she has with the other sibling.

Your child should be comfortable enough to vent negative feelings to you.

And when they do, acknowledge you understand your child’s feelings without explicitly agreeing.

Encourage them to talk out his or her issues with the other sibling.

If you want, you could have regular family meetings where you discuss any problems disrupting your family’s peace and harmony.

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