6 Tips & Ideas for Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

If you’re the parent of more than one child, you’re probably used to dealing with sibling rivalry. But sometimes, it can be challenging to understand how to discipline your children and teach them to cooperate without being too hard on them.

After all, you’re generally not trying to punish them. You want to teach your children how to treat each other nicely to improve their behavior and act more respectfully in the future. This strategy can be a tough balancing act.

You won’t always get the full story behind an argument between your kids. And when tensions are running high, you might get some push back from them. It’s not always an easy task to intervene. Sometimes, being patient with your kids when dealing with sibling rivalry can be a challenge.

Still, stepping in to mend sibling rivalries can help build stronger relationships. So, if you’re wondering how to navigate sibling rivalries, we have a few helpful tips for you.

1. Avoiding Favoritism

When one of your children feels like you’re showing favoritism to another, it only serves to fuel a sibling rivalry. Even if you think that one child is at fault for a particular squabble, it’s critical to treat them fairly. Do your best to be impartial. You don’t want to undermine your children’s trust.

2. Focusing on Righting Wrongs

There are times when you know that one of your children picked a fight or instigated an argument. And at other times, you will have no idea who or what “started it.” Your primary focus should be on making the situation right, not necessarily figuring out which child was right. Try to figure out a solution that will be fair to everyone involved.

3. Taking Away Toys

Let’s face it; sometimes, to settle an argument over a toy or a device, you need to take it away. You must explain that if you can’t share, you can’t have it.

Ideally, your children would then be able to play nicely after a first warning. If they can’t, it’s perfectly fair to say that they can have it back later when they are ready to share. Yes, your kids will feel upset temporarily, but this teaches crucial lessons about sharing that will stay with them for a lifetime.

4. Encouraging Apologies

It’s imperative to teach your children how to apologize with sincerity. This skill is not always one that comes naturally. Yet, it’s a crucial lesson for people to learn while they are young. To apologize well means more than saying sorry. Understanding what went wrong, empathizing, promising not to do it again, and honoring that promise are parts of a healthy apology. Expect your children to apologize to each other, and be prepared to employ some patience as you show them how.

5. Supporting Alone Time

As an adult, you probably feel that you need some alone time to cool down after tense situations and conflict. Kids can benefit from the same “time out.” Merely having a moment alone to blow off steam is crucial for deescalating rivalry. Sometimes, telling your kids to separate for a few minutes and come back when they feel ready can work wonders. You might be surprised at how well this improves their moods and willingness to cooperate.

6. Showing Empathy

When dealing with sibling rivalry, there is nothing more critical than showing genuine empathy to your children. It takes quite a while for children to learn how to maturely communicate and express their emotions. Show them patience, and understand that this is a time to take their feelings seriously.

Are you dealing with sibling rivalry in your household? There is a wealth of support available for parents who would benefit from guidance. Please reach out to me to see how I can help or visit my Parenting Skill Counseling page to learn more.