Parenting Tips: 7 Tips That Help When You’re Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

kittens displaying sibling rivalryIf you have more than one child, you’re dealing with sibling rivalry.

The constant fighting may often be a cause of stress and frustration for you. But how severe the conflicts are and what long-term effects they will have on your children depends much on how you’re dealing with sibling rivalry in your home.

So, how do you know when you should get involved in a squabble and when you shouldn’t? And how can you put a stop to excessive sibling rivalry and promote peace in your home?

7 Tips for Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

1. Encourage a team spirit and having fun as a family.

Establish a peaceful setting in which your children can have fun with each other. Get together regularly as a family and play ball, watch a movie, or enjoy child-friendly board games. Take a family trip to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston, the Dinosaur Valley Park in Glen Rose, or even the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi. Fun times spent together can help our children to bond with one another and you.

2. Make sure that all of your children understand family rules and consequences.

Set rules in a fair and consistent way to discourage inappropriate behaviors. Ensure that each child knows and understands the consequences for not following these rules. If there is an infraction, everyone involved should be held responsible for their part in the incident. The simple reason: it takes more than one to have a fight. Make clear that you want them to learn to walk away instead of clash.

3. When in doubt, intervene.

As long as you don’t have one child abusing another, don’t get in the middle of the conflict. However, if they’re in danger of hurting each other or damaging property, intervene. Stop the fight and listen to both sides. Give them space to vent their anger, but not on one another. Instead, show them alternative ways to handle their differences and express your confidence that they can work it out peacefully.

4. Remember that total equality is impossible.

Strive to be balanced. Each of your children is an individual. You don’t have to behave as if they’re the same. As much as possible, aim for balance and avoid favoritism, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be one-hundred percent fair. They will sense the fairness in your decisions if you assure each of them of your love and attention.

5. Strive to minimize comparisons.

Children resent being compared to others. So, don’t praise your children’s characteristics, skills, or accomplishments in relation to a sibling. Help them to see their own special qualities and that you value and appreciate each child for themselves. You may need to explain that, as they get older, they will get different privileges and more responsibilities. It will help them look forward to reaching those goals and not feeling inferior.

6. Make an effort to promote empathy and defuse jealousy.

Help your children understand the value of empathy. Sensitivity to each others’ feelings and difficulties will help strengthen their relationships. And if one child is still envious of their sibling, simply acknowledge that both of them have different skills to be proud of. Kids will ask, so be ready to give some concrete examples.

7. Initiate friendship with a new sibling before their birth.

Prepare your older children to accept their new sibling into the family before birth. Let them pat the baby in your tummy and feel it kick, show them pictures of the baby growing in your womb, and encourage them to talk to their unborn sibling.

Above all, stay positive. Dealing with sibling rivalry requires time and patience. Your role in promoting sibling harmony is to provide the conditions that foster unity and shape compatible relationships between your children, much like a counselor would do in family therapy.

If you’re dealing with sibling rivalry or other conflicts within your family, maybe it’s time to meet with a family therapist. Give us a call today at 832-559-2622, or click here to schedule an appointment online. You can have peace in your family again.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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