How to Handle Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is a common issue for many families. Kids often butt heads about who gets to make the choices, or who’s in charge. It’s normal and to be expected, but it can still cause a great deal of stress and conflict. Here’s how to help your children get along:
Identify the Problem
The first step is to identify why your children are fighting. Is one child trying to be the boss, or is it a case of incomplete communication? Knowing why your children are fighting can help you come up with a plan to resolve the issue.
Parents should make it clear that quarreling isn’t acceptable. Explain to your children how their actions are hurting the family. Set expectations for how you’d like them to interact and provide consequences if they don’t follow them.
When your children disagree, help them negotiate. Encourage them to communicate their feelings and try to come up with a compromise that both sides can agree on. Show them that by collaborating, they can reach an agreement much faster.
Be the model
Lead by example. Kids learn by watching their parents, so be sure to treat each other with respect. Show your children what respectful conflict resolution looks like and demonstrate that you are open to compromise.
Encourage individual expression
If your children often argue about being treated “the same,” it’s important to encourage individual expression. Let your kids be themselves and express their thoughts and feelings without judgement. Discourage comparison and let your children know that it’s ok to be different.
Spend quality family time
Taking the time to do activities together can help your children stay connected and understand each other better. Make it a point to spend quality family time every week, whether it’s a simple game night or a full-blown adventure.
Sibling rivalry is normal but it’s important for parents to intervene and provide guidance. By setting expectations, encouraging communication and cooperation, and finding ways to bond, you can help your children work out their differences and strengthen their bond.
Some tips to help siblings get along:
- Be patient and understanding with your children
- Make sure they feel safe and heard
- Encourage respectful communication
- Praise siblings when they work together
- Provide age-appropriate discipline and consequences
- Involve your children in the problem-solving process
- Encourage each child to express their thoughts and feelings without judgement
- Don’t compare your children to each other