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Our Favourite Ways to Combat Sibling Rivalry

When siblings just aren't getting along, it can be tough for the whole family. Some conflict between siblings is only natural, but there are things you can do to prevent an all out war(!), and to help you cope with sibling rivalry


Generally, siblings love each other, but they also love to hate each other.  Whether they squabble about who borrowed the other's toys or who is going to sit beside you in the car, it's important to remember that competition isn't always bad, but you need to know when to draw the line. 

We know it's hard to treat every child exactly the same in every situation, but how parents handle the initial displays of sibling rivalry can have a massive impact on how harmonious your household becomes.

There are several factors that can influence sibling rivalry

These factors include how much time the children spend together, whether one gets preferential treatment over the other, and how much of an age difference there is between them.

Ways to Stop Sibling RivalrySibling rivalry can manifest itself in the form of healthy competition, but some behaviours are unacceptable and it's important to stop them before they become an issue. Screaming, shouting, and physical or emotional violence are not acceptable ways for brothers and sisters to communicate.

Some siblings will be able to sort through their differences on their own but others will need to be shown better ways of talking, opportunities to shine on their own, and given a chance to discover each other's strengths.

Kate Nicolle from Mother's Brain has some advice for parents who find themselves drawing lines down the middle of the room or untangling one set of hands from the other's hair.

Advice for parents coping with sibling rivalry

See things from their side

It's understandable that a child might feel jealous of their sibling, and it's good to be empathetic; try to see where their feelings are coming from. It makes dealing with their behaviour easier.

Firm but fair

Have a firm but fair response to unacceptable behaviour. A child needs to know why their behaviour is not OK and be given guidance as to how they might deal with their feelings differently.

Life isn't always fair

Try to make situations fair, but don't bend over backwards to keep the peace. Your children need to learn that not everything in life is going to be fair, and bad behaviour is not the key to changing the odds in their favour!

Team work

Try to create opportunities for your children to be a team. If you have children who are old enough, set them off on making a den together with sheets and cushions etc. Give them the chance to see what's great about having a sibling. They still might bicker doing it, but it will give them a chance to see that doing something fun together is more fun than fighting!

Set out your expectations

Be clear with your children in regards to your expectations. They often start to feel like they call the shots, so outlining what behaviour you find unacceptable is important.

Celebrate differences

Make sure everyone has a valuable place in the family. Celebrate differences as just that and not one trait being better than the other.

Competition is ok

Ways to Stop Sibling Rivalry

Try to accept that there is a degree of natural behaviour with sibling rivalry, survival of the fittest! So if your children are competing for who gets to the top of the stairs first, pick your battles and let it go.

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