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Sibling Rivalry: How to Handle It

December 5, 2023

Sibling rivalry is a common and normal phenomenon that occurs when siblings compete for attention, affection, and resources. It can manifest in various ways, such as arguing, fighting, teasing, and telling tales. While sibling rivalry can be frustrating for parents, it is important to remember that it is a natural part of childhood development.

Why Does Sibling Rivalry Occur?

There are several reasons why sibling rivalry occurs. Some common factors include:

Competition for attention

Siblings often compete for their parents’ attention and affection. This can be especially true when siblings are close in age.

Differences in personalities

Siblings have different personalities and needs. This can lead to clashes and disagreements.


Siblings may feel jealous of each other’s accomplishments or possessions.


Siblings may argue or fight when they are bored.

How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry

There are several things parents can do to deal with sibling rivalry:

Spend quality time with each child

Make sure each child feels loved and special. This can be done by spending one-on-one time with each child, talking to them about their day, and doing activities together.

Set clear expectations

Let children know what your expectations are for their behaviour. This includes how they should treat each other and how to resolve conflicts.

Be consistent

Enforce your rules and expectations consistently. This will help children to understand what is expected of them. Make sure that the expectations are the same for all your children.

Avoid taking sides

When siblings argue, try not to take sides. Instead, help them to resolve the conflict on their own.

Teach children how to resolve conflict

two children upset after fighting

Teach children how to communicate effectively, compromise, and forgive. This does not come naturally and you may need to model this for them.

Encourage positive interactions

Encourage siblings to play together and cooperate with each other. Praise them when they do.

Seek professional help if needed

If sibling rivalry is severe or if it is causing significant distress, seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You certainly aren’t the fist to need help, and you won’t be the last.

Remember, sibling rivalry is a normal part of childhood development. With patience and consistency, you can help your children to develop healthy relationships with each other.

Additional Tips

  • Create a family mission statement: This can help children to understand the importance of working together as a family. You could put this on a canvas on the wall or pop a piece of paper with your mission written on it on the fridge.

  • Have regular family meetings: This is a time for family members to discuss problems and come up with solutions.

  • Celebrate each child’s individuality: Recognise and appreciate each child’s unique talents and abilities.

  • Teach children empathy: Help children to understand and respect the feelings of others.

  • Encourage sibling bonding: Create opportunities for siblings to bond, such as taking them on outings together or playing games together.

Sibling rivalry can be a challenge, but it is also an opportunity for children to learn important life skills, such as communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution. By following these tips, you can help your children to develop healthy relationships with each other and thrive in life.


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