a brother and sister walk arm in arm

Tips to Overcome Sibling Rivalry in Your Family


Do you feel like your family is stuck in a constant cycle of bickering and competition? If so, you’re not alone. Sibling rivalry is something that many families must learn to cope with, but it doesn’t have to be something that tears your family apart.

In this article, we’ll discuss some tips to help you overcome sibling rivalry in your family.

Definition of Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is the competitive relationship between siblings that often occurs when children are growing up. It's normal for siblings to compete for their parents' attention, and sometimes this can lead to arguments and conflict.

2 young brothers pull faces

Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

Causes of Sibling Rivalry

There are many possible causes of sibling rivalry. Some of the most common are:

Differential Treatment: Parents may unintentionally show favoritism towards one child in a family, causing the other sibling to feel devalued and jealous.

Birth Order: Studies have found that birth order can play a role in sibling rivalry, with older children feeling more responsible for younger siblings and resenting them for not “pulling their weight”.

Copying: Younger siblings often copy the behavior of their older siblings, sometimes intentionally to get attention and other times unintentionally. This can lead to a feeling of competition between the siblings as they strive to outdo each other.

Gender Differences: Gender differences can also contribute to sibling rivalry, as boys and girls often have different interests and compete to be the “better” gender.

Attention Seeking: Siblings may also engage in rivalry as a way to get attention from their parents, especially if the parents are often busy with work or other commitments.

Sibling rivalry is a natural and normal part of growing up, but it can become a problem if it is allowed to escalate. Parents should try to recognise the causes of sibling rivalry and take steps to minimise the conflict between their children.

2 twin girls on sofa

Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

Tips For Overcoming Sibling Rivalry

Establish family rules: Parents should set rules and boundaries that all family members need to follow. This will help create a more harmonious atmosphere and allow each child to express their feelings without fear of punishment.

Give each child individual attention: Parents should make sure to spend quality time with each child every day. This will help each child feel valued and important, and reduce the feeling of competition and rivalry between siblings.

Encourage positive communication: Parents should teach their children how to communicate effectively and respectfully. This will help reduce the chances of conflict between siblings.

Set aside time for the siblings to be together: Parents can help foster positive relationships between siblings by encouraging them to spend time together. This could be a weekly game night, movie night, or just helping each other with projects or chores.

Listen and be understanding: Parents should try to understand their children and be willing to listen to their concerns. This will help reduce feelings of resentment towards each other, and help them to learn how to resolve conflicts.

Avoid Comparisons – Resist the urge to compare your children to one another. Comparing siblings can cause further resentment and conflict.

Celebrate Each Child’s Success – Celebrate each child's successes, no matter how small. This will help build self-esteem and reduce resentment between siblings.

a brother and sister walk arm in arm

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Encourage Positive Interaction – Encourage your children to interact in positive ways, such as playing games or engaging in activities together.

Set Rules and Expectations – Let your children know what type of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. Be sure to provide them with clear guidelines and expectations.

Establish Fair Rules of Engagement – Let your children know that you expect them to treat each other with respect. Be sure to emphasize the importance of taking turns and being kind to one another.

Supervise Interactions – Monitor your children's interactions with one another so that you can intervene when necessary.

Praise Good Behavior – Praise your children when they show good behavior towards one another.

Create opportunities for bonding: Sibling relationships can be strengthened by doing activities together. Have your children work on a project or go to a family outing, so that they can get to know each other better.

Model positive behavior: It’s important to remember that your kids are watching and mimicking your behavior. If you demonstrate respectful communication and conflict resolution skills, you can show your children how to handle disagreements in a healthy way.

Set clear boundaries: One of the best ways to reduce sibling rivalry is to set clear boundaries. Establishing expectations for how siblings should treat each other is essential. Explain to your kids that it’s OK to disagree and have different opinions, but that it is not OK to be disrespectful or aggressive towards each other.

a young sister and brother

Photo by Bailey Torres on Unsplash

By following these tips, you can help reduce the frequency and severity of sibling rivalry in your family. With a little patience, understanding, and effort, you can create a more peaceful home.

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