Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

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  1. Solutions for Resolving Sibling Rivalry and Jealousy while Encouraging Sibling Love

    Sibling rivalry is a very common and normal part of growing up but too much of it can lead to fights, jealousy, resentment and animosity. This can have long lasting negative repercussions and cause damage to relationships. As always it falls upon you as a parent to keep all sibling rivalry to a minimum and maintain the peace between your children while being impartial. This can be quite a challenge but equipped with some simple techniques you can conquer sibling rivalry.

    Set and Repeat the Rules:

    Establish rules and strictly adhere to them because children work best and argue less when they know what their boundaries are. Some kids can be very forgetful while others like to test their limits, so it is necessary to keep repeating the rules in order to prevent any squabbles between your children that might initiate sibling rivalry.

    Alone Time:

    “Distancemakes the heart grow fonder." This holds true with siblings as well. Siblings enjoy having a live-in playmate but too much time together can cause children to tire and start bickering which leads to sibling rivalry. When you see your children starting to reach this point, separate them and give them time to play by themselves as every child needs his or her space.

    Copy Cat:

    Some younger siblings tend to copy their older siblings in everything they do. This can be frustrating for your older child as he feels a loss of independence and originality, thereby causing him to develop an aversion to his younger sibling. To avoid this resentment and prevent sibling rivalry, explain to your older child that this is a compliment to him to have someone who looks up to him and wants to be just like him. At the same time try and find skills that are unique to the younger sibling so that she may conduct activities that strengthen her individuality and that are also different than your older child.

    Mediate Only if Necessary:

    Let your children try to resolve the dispute themselves. Only step in when the disagreement is heading towards a serious argument or a fight. Having siblings settle their own differences teaches them to be independent, which is a valuable quality to instill in your children.

    Be Neutral:

    Parents have a tendency to take sides or prefer one child over the other. This may be due to the young age of the child, his abilities or other factors. It is best to avoid this as it triggers sibling rivalry while creating a distance between your children and yourself as well as cause sibling jealousy. If you have to mediate between siblings, hear both sides of the story and do not take sides or play favorites. Treat each child equally and help them to come up with a solution.

    Do Not Compare:

    Parents have a tendency to compare one child with the other which leads to rifts and aggression between the siblings. It also spoils the relationship between you and your child. It is important to remember that every child is different. One may be very athletic while the other might be artistically inclined. This does not mean that one child is better than the other but that each child is unique and has different interests or skills. Instead of judging one against the other, encourage your child to further develop her special abilities thereby removing any chances of sibling rivalry.

    Teach Them to Share:

    A common reason for siblings to fight is because one child wants what the other has. The best solution to resolving this type of sibling rivalry is to have your children share the things they argue over the most. If it is an item than can only be played or used by one person at a time, then allot timings to each child and following through to make sure that all your children get a chance to use it.

    Show Appreciation:

    When your children share or cooperate, show them that you are proud of them by rewarding this positive behavior with compliments and/or little trinkets, treats, or a fun activity they like to do. This encourages siblings to continue to work together.


    "Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too"; Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish; December 2004 

    Image Resource:

    Credit: bjearwicke

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