A Guide for Dealing With Sibling Rivalry

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

Kids can fight over anything. From TV remotes to the seating at the dinner table, siblings sometimes just don't get along, and create a fuss at some of the most petty topics. No matter how good they are to each other one minute, the next minute, they can be seen engaging in ugly fights and name-calling. Every couple that has more than one child will have to deal with sibling rivalry at some point. To avoid reaching those moments when you, as a parent, are just tempted to lock your children up in separate rooms, there are certain tricks you could use to keep the peace.

Do Not Label

Parents often have a tendency to label their children - who's smart, who's popular, who's more responsible, etc. This results in a growing competition among children. Labelling eventually leads to comparison at some point and it is one thing that children hate the most. By labelling, parents consign their kids into one role or another, regardless of whether they like it or not, and create comparison among siblings. Here, the key is to cheer on positive attributes of each child so that siblings, too can root for each other instead of competing for their parent's approval.

Give Proper Attention

One of the major reasons for sibling rivalry is to gain parent's attention. For children, even negative attention is better than having no attention at all. To satisfy your kid's need for attention, you must pay at least 15-20 minutes of intentional attention to each kid everyday. By intentional, we mean that you just need to pay attention to your kid without any distractions. Your child should be the center of the universe for these 20 minutes. By paying attention, you will solve your child's need for attention, and they won't fight with their sibling to get negative attention.

Try to Ignore

This trick might surprise you but the best way to end a fight is to simply ignore it. Go to another room and don't give even a little importance to the spat. By this, you are not rewarding negative behavior with your attention, and also giving a chance for your kids to work things out on their own.

Calm the Conflict

In case you feel that the fight is escalating into a physical throwdown, you have to step in but remember not to take any sides. You might know who started it all but don't place any judgment. Try to listen to each child's version of what happened and ask them to guide each other to a solution. If they are not able to do so, you can suggest a few yourself and help them reach an agreement.

The Same Punishment for All

If even after listening to both sides and coming to a solution, your kids don't agree, it's time to put them in the same boat where everyone bears the same consequences. This will make them understand that the best thing to do is to agree on a solution together. Try to use a reward chart for your children where your child gets the sticker if they show the behavior you want to see.

Final Thoughts

Sibling rivalry is common but as a parent, you should stay calm and act smartly instead of getting angry and making the situation worse. Always remember to be patient with your kids and help them learn how to find solutions and end arguments.

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