How To Manage Sibling Rivalry

sibling rivalry
Sibling rivalry is prevalent in many  homes . Some take it to an unimaginable extent, but doing few things could turn things around.

Kids fight over everything. From who controls the TV remote to who showers first, to hiding/breaking something that belongs to the other.

In fact, as long as there are more than one child in the house, sibling rivalry is inevitable.

But be rest assured some occasional rivalry between siblings is perfectly normal.

That said: if what you seek is a way to maintain peace and harmony in your home and manage sibling rivalry between your kids, here are several ways you can reach that feat:

Some underlying causes of sibling rivalry

No one can solve a problem they do not truly understand.

Being aware of the factors that influence sibling rivalry will provide a better understanding and help you to respond in more sensitive ways.

They will help you identify the best ways to manage sibling rivalry and have peace reign again.

Below are 10 factors that invariably influence sibling rivalry.

1. Birth order

The birth order of each of your children has an impact on them individually as it equally does on the sibling relationship.

Knowing the effects of birth order will give you an edge and you can use this data to respond in more sensitive ways to the sibling issues that arise between your children.

It will help you in dealing with it to foster a happier home and overall sibling relationship.

Several studies show that different birth orders carry their own characteristic response patterns because of the different experiences siblings in different birth orders have in their families.

For instance, it is a known fact that First-borns tend to identify closely with the parent who makes more of the decisions in the family, (traditionally the father).

First-borns are interested in results, are more proactive, and tend to be perfectionistic, reliable, responsible, well organised, and well, serious.

Second-borns (or middles) on the other hand, tend to identify closely with the more expressive and emotional parent (traditionally the mum).

They like to avoid conflict, are independent, extremely loyal to their peer group, and have many friends.

Third-borns often relate to pairs in the family (for example, two parents, two siblings, etc.)

They are interested in maintaining balance in relationships between people and tend to use humor in dealing with situations.

Not All children Fit In

The youngest children are big on maintaining family harmony.

They are usually interested in the emotions of the individuals in the family and the family as a group.

They are the charming, precocious, and engaging ones, but can be manipulative, dodge taking responsibility for their actions, be perceived as show-offs.

PS: Remember that the above data is not an exact or hard science and that not all children can be expected to fit these characteristics.

But it can be really interesting to see how much or how little your children match the stereotype.

This understanding can also broaden your perspectives, to help you to broaden your children’s perspective about their birth order.

Again, each birth order has its highs and lows and no one position is actually better than any other.

2. Family Planning

Spacing among siblings, no doubt can affect the intensity of rivalry.

Children closer in age are more likely to spend time with one another, and children who are spaced further apart have less access to one another.

This happens due to age bracket disparity and tend to be less competitive because they usually spend less time together.

They are interested in different things and are involved in different activities, giving little room for consistent bickering and sibling rivalry.

3. Temperamental Variations

Siblings who are temperamentally “soft” may be treated differently by parents than siblings who are “tougher”; temperamentally “soft/easy” children tend to be liked more, and children with more challenging temperaments may annoy their siblings (and parents) more.
Also, if there are differences in how parents react to their children, this could increase the intensity of the competition between them. Depending on each of the siblings’ temperaments, they may be more or less likely to get along with each other.
For instance, a very active (extroverted) but emotionally sensitive youngster may “pester” his quieter, more introverted brother to play with him, only to get hurt and upset when he wants to be left alone to play a video game.

4. Physical Factors

Hunger, fatigue, injury, illness, and developmental disequilibrium can affect siblings’ relationships, even if just until the children’s physical needs are addressed. Also, siblings living in a small apartment, and have to share a room might argue more because of their close proximity.

5. Parenting Style And Family Ambiance

Parenting approaches vary from very aggressive and overly forceful to very permissive and overly tolerant. Children raised in families at either end of this space tend to fight more.

Ø When parents are very strict and use overly harsh discipline or corporal punishment, the children tend to fight more with siblings when they can get away with it because aggression has been modeled for them.
Ø Children raised in homes where the parents are very permissive or indulgent, don’t feel that they get enough attention and don’t have rules to guide their behavior, so they too, tend to fight a lot.
In the middle ground of these two extremes, you’ll find families that:
a) Foster cooperation rather than competition
b) Respect individual needs
c) Encourage a positive and loving connection to the family.

This approach helps to build high self-esteem in the children, which in turn, has an impact on the children’s relationships with one another- there will be less need to compete for love, attention, and respect, or to prove their worth by belittling a brother or sister.

6. Family Circumstances

Although technically children may be raised in the same household, differences in the circumstances can alter their experiences.

This includes such factors as the finances of the family at any given time, which parents worked and when, who was in charge of the children, where the family lived, and the nature of the parents’ relationship at the time each sibling was growing up. All of these can impact children’s relationships.

The 4 solutions to sibling rivalry:

1. You Need Ground Rules

A great way to manage sibling rivalry between your children is to establish rules in your home. Rules are an effective preventative strategy. As it concerns sibling rivalry, rules can set a tone and communicate your expectations about how you want them to relate with their siblings.
It gives you the leverage to always refer back to the “family rule” when children fight or do not treat their siblings with respect.

Include them in discussions, have them make suggestions about what rules should exist in your family in terms of how people should treat each other.

2. Be Fair

Kids learn from watching than they do from listening.

As you ‘handle’ the other sibling, be rest assured he/she is watching you and taking cognizance of even-handedness, which, in his mind, translates to being loved equally.

Treat your children as the unique individuals they are; make each child feel special.

No matter how you may feel about a particular child at any time, decease from showing favoritism.

Do not compare your children to one another either favorably or unfavorably; not by their grades, behavior or the way they look.

No competition, ever.
Avoid family games where one can win and another child can lose. It’s a family, not a sports arena, and children should be raised in collaboration, not competition.

Never tell one child you love him/her better than the sibling because they are behaving better.

This can create a form of bias that can turn one child against the other.

3. Stay Out Of Your Children’s Arguments

There is great reward in staying calm and objective.

Learn to stay out of arguments that are only harmless bickering. Some amount of rivalry is healthy for growing children.


Have you read Raising Children: 6 Things Mums Should Do Daily?


Besides, there isn’t a switch somewhere you can flip to have them never argue ever again.

Especially if they are still in their early years, expect many episodes of sibling rivalry. It’s only a part of their growing up.

When it comes to resolution, you may have to step in and settle a squabble between toddlers or preschoolers, but older children will probably settle an argument themselves if left alone.

If your children try to involve you, explain that they’re both responsible for creating the problem and for ending it.

What is important is that your children have healthy ways to work the conflicts out.

4. Spend Time With Each Child

Being proactive about making sure each of your children gets quality one-on-one time with you will go a long way toward melting rivalry.

The last thing you want to do is inadvertently foster competition.

This means that you must resist the urge to compare behavior, abilities, or temperaments—and always stay on message about how your love for them all is completely equal.

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