Put an End to Sibling Rivalry!

Have you noticed that your children are constantly fighting? You can put an end to sibling rivalry by applying these tips.
Put an End to Sibling Rivalry!
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

If you have more than one child, you may know that sibling rivalry can be stressful. It may even start right after the second child is born. It’s difficult for parents and children, but you can put an end to sibling rivalry, even if it seems impossible at first.

When your children are developing, they need to feel they have your attention. When children are constantly fighting because they’re competing to define who they are as individuals, they want to show that they’re separate from their siblings, but still require your attention. When a child feels that a sibling has more attention than they do, then they’ll act out to get noticed.

How you react can either put an end to sibling rivalry or enhance it

Fortunately, how parents react to sibling conflict can make a big difference in how hard and how often they fight. Competition can be intensified or it can be reduced.

We can drive hostile feelings underground or allow them to vent safely. We can accelerate fighting or make cooperation possible. As parents, our attitudes and words have the power to change the situation or aggravate it.

A girl pulling on her brother's ears.

Techniques to put an end to sibling rivalry

Try these techniques that’ll put an end to the sibling rivalry that stresses your family for good. You’ll be able to live in harmony and enjoy each other’s presence without having to put up with competitive behavior all the time.

Treat your children as individuals and avoid rivalry

Recognize that children don’t need to be treated equally, but they do need to be treated uniquely. Treating all children the same, contrary to what many believe, isn’t the best course of action. Siblings are different; each has its own idiosyncrasies depending on the order in which they’re born.

Reassure them when things seem unfair

There will still be times when they’ll feel they’re not getting a good amount of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from their parents. Expect this and be prepared to explain the decisions you’ve made.

You need to reassure your children that you’re doing things the best way you can to meet each of their needs, which are different from one another and, at the same time, unique.

Explain to your children that older or younger children may have different responsibilities or privileges due to age. Set aside individual time for each child every day. Just ten minutes of uninterrupted time with mom or dad’s full attention can make a big difference to a child.

Put an end to sibling rivalry: encourage cooperation, not competition

Parents can set siblings up for success by making sure they’re not set up to compete all the time. Do things that make them cooperate and plan family activities that are fun for everyone.

Good experiences help children bond and act as a buffer when arguments arise because it’s hard to get mad at someone with whom you have happy memories.

Let them have their space to avoid rivalry

Make sure your kids have their own space and time to be themselves. Their room or area within a shared room should be somewhere where they and their property are protected from their siblings. Also, they should have time to play with friends without their brother or sister joining in as well.

A brother and sister with their backs to one another.

Listen when they’re calm

Use alone time to ask children what they like about their siblings and what they don’t like. Really listen to their complaints and reinforce the positive things they see in each other.

When little ones feel heard, they’re less likely to fight for your attention, so really listening to what’s going on in their lives and in their sibling relationships is an important step in preventing sibling rivalry.

Don’t let them get hungry…

It sounds silly, but it’s not. When all else fails and sibling squabbles escalate, consider the time of day when fights occur most often and whether or not the children have eaten recently when they get into the fray. Hungry children are more likely to fight, so an earlier snack may eliminate sibling rivalry.

To avoid the rivalry between your children…

You’ve already seen that, to avoid sibling rivalry, it’s best to give each of them their space and due attention when appropriate. Therefore, we encourage you to put these tips into practice, and you’ll surely put an end to all those silly fights!

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