3 Ways to Combat Sibling Rivalry

Most siblings fight from time to time. It’s a natural result of competing for Mom and Dad’s attention, their own space, and other resources. Yet sometimes the rivalry gets out of control, and it feels like your kids will never stop fighting. If you’re tired of dealing with this, these tips can help.

Hold All Kids Responsible

Some parents discipline whichever sibling started the current fight but don’t reprimand the others. This sounds okay, but in reality, it teaches kids they can get away with misbehavior as long as they’re not the ones caught. If fights occur, make it a rule that everyone gets a consequence. Say, “It doesn’t matter who started it. The rule is, no bickering.”

Stay Out of It

Sibling rivalry escalates when parents referee the fights because kids thrive on attention—even if it’s negative. During a calm time, state the rules about fighting, such as, “There will be no bickering or aggression; you need to walk away.” Tell kids that they can come to you to help resolve big issues, but you want them to work out small ones, such as who gets the next turn in an activity.

Play Up Uniqueness

Sometimes siblings fight because they’re jealous of one another. They may feel the oldest gets more privileges or that one child gets extra attention because of an illness or disability. If this is true, diffuse the situation. Explain that attention has to be shared and that you love each child equally.

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