Partly Cloudy   34.0F  |  Forecast »

How to Stop Sibling Rivalry with Your Kids

Got fights brewing between sons and daughters? Discover 10 quick and direct tips for how parents can diffuse the battles, whether physical or verbal.

When nastiness unfurls between brothers and sisters, everyone winds up hurt and stressed. But parents can curb sibling rivalry by understanding its causes – and addressing the issues it raises.

Squabbles are normal among kids in the same family. Every child craves the individual attention of each parent – and wants to be the "most loved" by mom and dad. Kids lack the mental maturity to understand a parent's love expands with the birth of each additional child, so each child is loved equally.

Many fights that seem to be about particular issues are really about trying to win that exclusive love. It's common for a child to occasionally wish his siblings simply didn't exist.

You'll never eliminate sibling rivalry, but you can reduce its frequency and intensity. Follow these tips to increase peaceful coexistence in your family.

1. Accept negative feelings

Anger, envy and even temporary hatred are normal, real feelings experienced between siblings. Respond to these outbursts by first acknowledging you can understand how he could feel that way – and that you accept it. You can suggest solutions after your child has calmed down.

2. Alone time with you

Spend some time completely alone with each child on a regular basis. Plan an activity for the just two of you, or just sit and snuggle. Whatever you do together, give that child your undivided attention – and really listen to her.

3. Individual recognition

Be ready with praise for individual achievements. All family members should behave this way. Every child does something well, so celebrate even small accomplishments.

4. Family sharing

Have a designated time each day or week during which each child shares his successes and receives praise from other family members. Dinner is traditional, but if individual schedules prevent this, set aside a regular meeting time when everyone's free, at least weekly. Teach your kids to praise each other.

5. Special spaces

Many sibling disputes are "territorial," as one child disturbs another's belongings or enters his space. Every child, like every adult, needs a space exclusively his, no matter how small. Everyone should respect the room, corner or desk set aside for each family member.

6. Stop teasing

Even well intentioned teasing can quickly turn into emotional abuse that deeply hurts kids. Some tease "affectionately," but there are more direct and positive ways to show you care.

7. Forbid all physical aggression

Pushing, hitting, biting and other attacks are abuse and can escalate into actual injury. These behaviors have no place in a healthy family. Always employ non-physical solutions to disagreements.

8. Be a good role model

Treat each family member with respect. Settle disputes with fairness. Your own behavior is the best teacher of all.

9. Help kids design solutions

Show your children how to calmly settle differences on their own, keeping their focus on problem behaviors instead of personalities. Help them learn the skills of active listening and mutual compromise.

10. Both on board

Discuss and agree on a consistent approach to sibling disputes. All strategies work better when both parents react the same way.

Oct 6, 2013 06:55 am
 Posted by  kkmom

We have two sons, whom are both adopted. They are six years apart. The oldest is a special needs child, with behavioral issues I want to diffuse the jealousy between them and stop the constant fighting. How can I do that?

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

They're ditching 'mom' and 'dad' and putting parents on a first-name basis instead. What's the deal with this trend?

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

You've got the candy and other snacks ready, but what about the beverages? Well, add a cup of 'scary' to your Halloween party with help from Martha Stewart, Pillsbury and more.

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

Harness a bit of autumn for your kids' next creative venture by making this handy contraption. Note that a drill is required, so be sure mom or dad helps.

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Kids allergic to nuts, milk and more can look for pumpkins painted blue-green to find homes giving safe, non-edible treats, thanks to The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

So simple they're scary! Check out these three orange DIY projects in time for fright night – plus a cool Frankenstein handprint craft for good measure.

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

This Livonia landmark offers an alternative to the grocery store, selling 4,000 turkeys in just four days. Peek at our chat with the 'turkey lady'.

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Does your due date correspond with the holiday season? Here are some wise ways to enjoy the season with your newborn – and avoid unnecessary stress.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement