A Parent’s Guide to Defusing Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is natural and this healthy competition among siblings is unavoidable. However, the fighting and tension can wreak havoc on family time and bonding if allowed to escalate beyond the occasional boundary dispute.

Brothers and sisters have a precious opportunity to bond even if they get into competitions and fights. Consider these steps to increase the bonding and reduce the fighting.

Preventing Conflicts

1. Give each child special attention. Sibling rivalry is often just a struggle to get noticed. Spend separate time with each of your children regularly and share their favorite activities. Show equal enthusiasm for piano recitals and soccer matches.

2. Recognize your children as individuals. Avoid comparing one sibling to another. Treat them as individuals and acknowledge their personal abilities and strengths.

3. Teach conflict resolution skills. Having a brother or sister is a valuable training ground for learning many life skills. Teach kids to compromise, treat each other with respect, and take turns.

4. Discourage tattling. Let kids know that telling on each other is against the ground rules. The only exception is when someone’s safety or well-being is in jeopardy.

5. Be sensitive to potential triggers. Milestones like bringing home a new baby or starting school can escalate tensions. Even every-day factors like getting too hungry or tired can make it more difficult for kids to stay on their best behavior.

6. Encourage positive interactions. Give your kids opportunities to talk about what they like about each other. Discuss the positive aspects of having brothers and sisters. Creating lots of cherished memories and shared experiences will help them to support each other during rough times.

7. Hold regular family meetings. Family meetings make it easier for everyone to work together as a team. When kids get a chance to provide input, they feel validated and more invested in family activities and routines.

8. Be a good role model. Give your kids a peaceful environment. If you’re calm and free of anger, your kids are more likely to feel the same way. Engage the whole family in activities to lower stress, like taking a long walk or listening to music.

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