What Is Sibling Rivalry, What Causes It, and How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry among your children and handle conflicts between your children.
It can be so frustrating to hear your kids yell and scream at each other.
Sometimes it can seem like there is no reason that sibling rivalry exists, that it is simply because they are siblings. Often sibling rivalry exists because one sibling is jealous of the other. No matter what the causes of sibling rivalry are though, there may be a few other factors that play into it. Now that you know what it is, you can figure out what’s causing it between your kids.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry?
You may accidentally be playing favourites with your kids and not even notice. Kids notice the smallest of things, and may take things the wrong way if they feel you aren’t being fair. You may really have to take a closer look at your actions and decide if this might be a causing factor of the sibling rivalry between your kids.
Sometimes it is simply the age of your children that may be causing the sibling rivalry. They just don’t see eye-to-eye based on their age. If this is the case, there isn’t always a lot you can do about it, but you can let them work out some of the issues on their own. Once they get older, they will definitely appreciate their age difference a lot more.
Sometimes sibling rivalry is caused by different temperaments. One child may not have patience for their sibling and vice versa. Kids don’t really have the experience it takes to work through different temperaments, so it may sound like constant bickering and fighting.
Stages of life
As kids get older, their relationship focus might be less on their siblings and more on their friends. Sibling rivalry can be caused by a change of seasons in life. If you have a child who may be going off to college or is even dealing with getting older, their siblings may not like this idea and they may act out as a result.
How to Handle Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is one of those parts of parenting that you’re not always sure how to handle. You kind of want to send them to their rooms, but that tactic will not work forever. It’s best to come up with a few solutions that will work for your kids. As much as you want the problem to just go away, it’s best to try to deal with it. Here are some tips for handling sibling rivalry.
Challenge your kids to get along
Sometimes you can simply challenge your kids to get along. Ask them to try to get along that specific day and see how your kids react. They may just surprise you and end up getting along.
Make each child feel important
The last thing you want to do is make any of your children feel bad. One of the best things you can do is try to make each of your children feel important. There is some sibling jealousy that you just cannot avoid. However, you can make it a point to make each of your children feel important, so they never have to feel that gut-sinking feeling of jealousy!
Try to stay as calm as possible
Sibling rivalry is not going to get better if you’re the one yelling. You really need to try to stay calm in order to deal with the situation. When your kids see how you are able to handle certain situations, it may help them in the long run as well.
Set up family boundaries
A lot of times, sibling rivalry is acted out with hitting, kicking, pushing and screaming at each other. You must be firm in your decision to ban these actions from your home. If your children see that you’re firm in this decision, and dislike the consequences of behaving in that manner, they will be forced to find ways to get along with their sibling.
Make bonding a priority
If your kids are fighting because they feel as if they don’t have anything in common, perhaps because of an age gap, you might want to make bonding a priority. Set aside time for your kids to do something together. You’ll want to make it a rule that during these bonding events, no arguing is allowed.
Sibling rivalry doesn’t have a one size fits all solution. Keep working with your children and eventually, the bickering will end.
What tips do you have for parents who are dealing with sibling rivalry?
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!
Friday 26th of October 2018
These are great tips, we love to spend time with our granddaughters and we have been dealing with some of that lately. So frustrating. These are great tips.
Monday 13th of March 2017
I found that letting each child having his/her say while you and other child listen, then let the other child (children) have their say as well, will give you in insight into how they view this problem.. For older children, I found that asking them to give suggestions on how things could be better works fairly well. That is, if they agree to follow more constructive ways to handle problems. I found that asking them for solutions that are reasonable work better than imposing ones yourself. They also learn to negotiate.
Thursday 24th of November 2016
My boys are now in their 20's and I still notice sibling rivalry.
Monday 4th of April 2016
Two of my children are just under a year apart and are really, really close. A wonderful relationship. The others are all about 2 yrs apart, with one gap of 4 yrs. I was lucky in that I didn't have any trouble with sibling rivalry perhaps because there were so many that they always had someone to play with. I do appreciate that rivalry can be a terrible situation to deal with and each situation needs to be dealt with differently just as each child is different too.
Wednesday 23rd of March 2016
I won't have to worry about this as my kids are 15 yrs apart lol.
But the rivalry between my sister and I as kids was unbelievable. We are 11 months apart.