Sibling Rivalry


So your family has more than one child. Whether it was planned, unexpected, or due to the blending of families, siblings are great for each other and their relationships will last their lifetime. Siblings are playmates, friends, teammates, and can rely on each other. As parents we want our children to get along famously. Not just because it creates a more peaceful household, but because we want our children to have family to be supportive of them through their entire lives, even after we are gone. We know sibling rivalry is a normal part of child/family development. How can parents foster a good sibling relationship?

Hold Family Meetings: This allows the family to talk about all rules and form compromises together. The entire family learns to work things out.

Family Team Spirit: Teach the children how to get along, work together, and find things that work for the entire team family. This includes everything from planning family vacations to weekend outings. Every member in the family is different and for the whole family to be successful, you have to think of everyone’s needs.

“You are all my favorites”: Treat every member of the family as your favorite individual. Find the unique qualities in each of your children. Read the book of the same name by Sam McBratney to remind yourself and teach your children you can love each one of them the same.

Police the arguments: Pay attention to arguments and the words being used. Intervene immediately if someone is saying hurtful words, physically violent, screaming, or destroying property. Then teach your children how they could have resolved that situation in a different manner.

It’s Not Always Fair: Some children grow at different times and require a shopping trip. Others get a later curfew or to see an older movie. Some get a later bedtime and others get more chores. We parent based on age, maturity, and circumstances. If Sally grew and needs a new pair of shoes, we are not going to buy everyone a new pair of jeans to make things fair. There is a difference between teaching your children necessities, limits, and balance and letting them gloat. Sally should not be denied the new shoes and her brother can be told he has to wait until his feet grow. But Sally should not be allowed to flaunt the new shoes in front of her brother or make fun of his old shoes.

One-on-One Time: Often it is difficult enough to get family time with our busy schedules that to add in individual attention for each child seems overwhelming. But that needs to happen. Each child needs time with one parent without their sibs. Whether it’s once a month or 30 minutes a day. Give your child special time to be with just you doing something where you focus on that child. Errand running does not count, so do not try to multitask. Set it up as special time, call it that, and treat it as that.