Sibling rivalry is a given...
or is it?

You can't have siblings without sibling rivalry...or can you? True, brothers and sisters won't always get along and there are many faces to normal sibling relationships that include some arguments and tears. Some family discord is completely natural and normal. But if you witness

  • daily arguments
  • physical violence
  • screaming

between the siblings in your family, there might be room for change. Are you ready for it?

Step one is to check out the Love and Logic series of books. You can establish your boundaries for the behaviors you are and are not willing to tolerate in your home. There is too much to explain here, and since the Love and Logic folks have done a great job of it, just read their books, okay?

Step two is to call a family meeting to talk calmly during a non-fighting time about the sibling issues you are seeing. Chances are that your kids have some things to say on the matter.

Sibling rivalry can be reduced by two things:

1. Creating opportunities for your kids to have fun together

Consider adding a “Sibling Day” to your family rituals. I found this idea in a magazine years ago, we tried it and it stuck. We chose a random day (the last Saturday in April) and we named it “Brothers' Day.” We made t-shirts and had a special breakfast. I gave them time to make cards for each other. I brainstormed with each child a list of things that they appreciated about each sibling. We took pictures. We went on a special outing. You get the idea—you can take this idea and make it your own! The important thing is to devote time to appreciating the other sibling(s). Sibling rivalry can be lessened with some understanding and respect. Having a “sibling day” once a year or even more frequently, if you choose—can be money in the bank.

2. Recognizing age appropriate roles for your kids

Age appropriate roles is a hard one. Some families, I'm sorry to say, create sibling rivalry in the way they treat their kids. Do you do this? Think hard. There are times when kids should be treated the same, and some instances where kids should be treated differently. Failure to do either can result in hurt feelings and sibling rivalry and resentment. Here are some examples:

First, do not expect your older kids to be “junior parents” to the younger kids. If you expect your older kids to have responsibilities with your younger kids, like supervising their chores or watching them, you will get less push-back if you compensate them with extra pay or privileges (like extra minutes at bedtime). Talk to your older child about hiring him or her as “chore buddy” and make an arrangement that's a win-win.

Second, chores expectations and allowance are things that change as the kids get older in our household. With more years come greater responsibility. Older kids also get more freedom and priveleges, so I think it works out fairly. Teens are especially sensitive to injustice, so the more latitude and flexibility you give them --assuming they've earned it-- the more content they'll be and the less likely to have resentment toward their siblings.

Try these ideas to reduce sibling rivalry in your household. Remember that some friction is normal, but there may be a larger issue that you can address. Good luck!

Go to Sibling Fighting from Sibling Rivalry