How to Handle Resentment between Siblings

How to Handle Resentment between Siblings
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

It’s natural for siblings to fight throughout the day and for reasons that often seem petty. However, it’s the ability to solve their differences in a healthy way that will keep them free from sibling resentment.

Brothers and sisters will always have their differences, just like any two people on the planet are bound to disagree at times. And one of the keys to solving these differences is the quality of the family’s communication.

Communication among all members in a family needs to be open, sincere and respectful. Everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves and all members should be treated as equals. These conditions allow your children to feel listened to, loved and valued.

What causes resentment between siblings

There are many factors that can cause sibling resentment to develop. However, New York psychotherapist Jeanne Safer explains that there are two types of personalities that are more prone to resent their siblings.

In an article from Psychology Today she also explains that evolution is one of the reasons that sibling resentment exists. She justifies her claim with the following argument: Siblings are programmed to be rivals and compete for one of the most crucial resources in life – the attention of their parents.

And that’s where the problem is born: In the treatment and attention that parents give their children. Therefore, treating your children fairly and equally is the key in keeping your children from becoming resentful .

How to Handle Resentment between Siblings

Strategies for handling resentment between siblings

Equal treatment

It’s natural for parents to feel a certain affinity with one child more than with others. However, the secret of handling, or better yet, avoiding resentment between siblings is to treat them equally.

Parents need to focus on showing their children that they’re concerned for their needs and never discriminate in any way.

Every family member needs to feel that they receive the same quantity and quality of attention. And of course, they all need the same amount of affection.

Fair rules

The rules and norms in your home need to be clear to all members of the family. The rules should also be the same for all of your children, as should be the application of consequences.

Ideally, there should exist a balance between mom and dad. They should agree on the rules and also how to correct their children.

Parents should work together to guarantee that all of their children receive the fairest treatment possible.

Avoid making comparisons

Just as any other human being, children become very uncomfortable when someone compares them to a sibling or another child.

Avoid making comparisons among your children (or any children!). All children are different.

It’s true that parents sometimes point out the particular qualities or defects of their children to help them learn. However, you must be extremely careful with the words you choose.

Remember that children are very sensitive and can easily misinterpret what they hear. They may misunderstand your intentions or those of their siblings. This sort of misunderstanding easily leads to sibling resentment.

Parents need to focus on showing their children that they’re concerned for their needs and never discriminate in any way.

Share with all of your children

Try to provide all of your children with the same amount of quality timeIt’s important that you spend time with each of them on an individual level and also as a group.

Choose activities that they’re interested in and enjoy the activities along with them.

How to Handle Resentment between Siblings

Be aware of the stages your children are in

Parents often fail to realize when their children are feeling resentment towards their siblings. But the situation becomes apparent when the children can solve their differences in a healthy way.

If this occurs in your family, remember that it’s normal for children in large families to compete for their parents’ attention.

In fact, there are ages when jealousy among siblings is more frequent. For example, when children are about 6 or 7 years old, and they are becoming more independent and forming their personalities.

During this stage, it’s vital that your child know how much you love him. If you have a child this age, make him or her feel your love – be intentional about it, without exaggerating. Let your child know that he or she can always trust you.

Adolescence is another difficult stage. Even when it may seem like teens only want to be alone, being close and tending to their emotional needs is critical.

To summarize, being there for your children emotionally and establishing open and sincere communication is the best thing you can do to avoid resentment.

Do your best to make your home a place where every member feels loved and cared for.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.