Dealing with Sibling Rivalry
Sometimes being a
parent is more like working as a referee. If
you have ever gone on a long car ride with
your children or even just sat through a
long dinner, you know that the claws are
sure to come out eventually. Even a super
parent is unable to settle these tiny
squabbles every time.
There are quite a few factors that might be
causing sibling rivalry. Kids close in age
are more likely to argue incessantly than
those further apart. This is usually the
case unless one child is put in charge of
another one. The way parents treat children
can also play into this dynamic. A father
who spends more time with his son than his
daughter may very well contribute to tension
between the two. Sometimes it is a matter of
simple personality differences.
One way to prevent sibling rivalry is to
start the relationship on the right foot.
This means that you should be introducing
the children before the younger one is even
born. Talk about how great of a sibling the
older child is going to be. Talk about the
changes that will occur when the new baby is
born. Get the older child involved in
caretaking, whether it is changing diapers
or keeping the baby entertained. This helps
the older child feel like a valuable part of
In some cases, it may be better not to get
involved with the fight unless one of the
children is at risk of physical harm.
Stepping in to the argument is often
construed as taking sides. If you do choose
to step in, you should separate the children
and give them some time alone. Another way
to avoid taking sides is to avoid making
comparisons between the children.
If things are really getting out of hand you
can hold family meetings to resolve
conflict. Set ground rules during the
meeting and talk about the ways you can
decrease conflict in the home. Everybody
will benefit from a less stressful
Validating a child’s feelings is always
important. Instead of ignoring feelings and
sweeping them under the rug, encourage your
children to share their feelings in a way
that does not hurt those around them. They
get to air their grievances and feel as if
they are not being ignored.
The truth is that most children are not
going to be best friends with each other.
While this is unfortunate, there are still
some steps you can take to make the living
situation more harmonious.
Please be aware that
the articles on this site are written by
mothers who are discussing their own
experiences and their own opinions. They do
not, and are not meant to, represent
professional advice and should be read with
that point firmly in mind. Our children’s
welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the
slightest doubt about any aspect of caring
for a child you are urged to seek qualified,
specialist advice from a professional
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