Calming Sibling Rivalry: Four Quick Tips

Brother sitting on a park bench with arm around his sister

April 10 is National Siblings Day, which is intended for siblings to honor their sisters and brothers. However, an article about this day starts off by pointing out that siblings can be our best friends, or they can be our worst enemies. Parents want to see their kids grow up together and continue to be friends throughout their lives. But when sibling rivalry strikes, this can seem like an unattainable dream!

Based on the number of calls that we receive about battles among kids, sibling rivalry seems to have increased in frequency and intensity, possibly due to increased emotional and psychological fallout from the pandemic. Conflict between kids can trigger stress and conflict between parents, further contributing to family chaos. Here are four tips on how to address sibling rivalry.

Some degree of sibling rivalry is normal, and it can provide opportunities for our kids to learn essential life-long relational skills. But this happens only if we have common-sense skills for ensuring that these conflicts don’t grow into chronic resentment, feelings of victimization, and perpetual family chaos. Although the subject can be complex, here are four tips that can help keep the family atmosphere healthy.

Nurture each of your children’s unique strengths and gifts.

When children are noticed and appreciated for their unique interests and aptitudes, they are less likely to perceive that their parents have “favorite” children. Of course, favoritism by parents is the kiss of death when it comes to sibling relationships.

Provide strong and loving leadership.

Love and Logic is all about helping parents become, and remain, loving and strong authority figures. Much of this is achieved by providing consistent and enforceable limits. When kids feel a lack of such leadership, they experience anxiety and subconsciously wonder, “Well, if our parents aren’t running this home, I better.” Chaos among siblings ensues as they compete for this leadership position.

Stay out of the middle, while guiding them toward solutions.

Most of us struggle with the temptation to rescue our kids from each other by placing ourselves in the middle of their conflicts. When we succumb to doing so, we send a very unhealthy message: “If you want some attention, all you have to do is start a fight with your brother or sister. Then I’ll swoop in to rescue.” In my audio, Sibling Rivalry: Strategies for Teaching Your Kids How to Get Along, I describe how parents can avoid making this mistake while guiding their children toward learning how to resolve their own conflicts.

Of course, it is very important to remember that we do rescue when life and limb are in obvious danger.

Use the “Energy Drain” technique to keep it their problem rather than yours.

We’ve received story after story of how parents have informed their children that bickering and arguing drains their parental energy. When this happens with parents who use Love and Logic, kids are expected to replace this energy by doing things such as completing extra chores or staying home from an activity so that their parents can restore their energy instead of driving their kids around.

Although we can’t ensure that our kids always love and appreciate each other, we can create a home where it’s always in their best interest to work hard at doing so. If you are struggling with how to handle battles between your kids, you can benefit from listening to our audio, Sibling Rivalry: Strategies for Teaching Your Kids How to Get Along.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Sibling Rivalry: Strategies for Teaching Your Kids How to Get Along - Audio


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