How To Cope with Sibling Rivalry and Its Consequences?

sibling fights

How To Cope with Sibling Rivalry and Its Consequences?

While there are so many brothers and sisters who are more like best friends to each other but still sibling fights are very common. Usually, the rivalry between two children begins after the birth of the second child and it continues as they grow and contest for their stuff like toys and attention. Sibling rivalry is the feeling of competition and jealousy between sisters and brothers. 

Sibling fights are a worry for most parents with two or more children. Usually, it continues all over childhood and it is very frustrating for parents to see and hear their kids fighting with each other. When a house is bursting with conflicts, it’s quite upsetting for everybody. Sometimes, it is even hard for parents to decide whether they should get involved in these fights or not and how to resolve these skirmishes.

All parents nurture their kids with different parenting styles but still, their children do fight with each other, no matter what. But parents can follow steps to bring peace to their house and help their children get along. You can take action to work through the struggles positively to help your kids be nice to each other. You need to work out with your children to develop cooperation skills and to be able to understand others’ outlooks. 


  • Don’t forget that rivalry between two children is expected and unavoidable to some level.
  • If your kids fight too much or compete for everything that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your kids or your parenting because it’s normal. 
  • Children’s fights may seem meaningless to you but if you see the other side of the coin, general squabbling and fighting offer them opportunities to learn life skills such as conflict resolution.
  • Don’t think that you can eradicate sibling clashes. You can manage these clashes and try to create a pleasant-sounding relationship between the kids but you can’t just abolish them. 
  • You can try out the effective approaches your parents implemented in the past to manage your battles with your siblings. 

How to Define Sibling Rivalry?

An unending battle between children grown in the same family is described as sibling rivalry. It can be between blood-relation siblings, adopted siblings, step-siblings, and even foster siblings. Even the parents are sometimes shocked to see the various forms of sibling opposition and how cruel their kids can be to their brothers and sisters. 

sibling fights

Siblings provoke and fight each other in many different ways to vent their anger and jealousy. It may occur as:

  • Physical or vocal battle
  • Insults/name-calling
  • Backbiting and chattering
  • Expressing envious feelings
  • Constantly competing for parental attention
  • Blaming, poking, and lying
  • Stealing or hiding each other’s stuff
  • Arguing and hitting
  • Breaking or destroying each other’s belongings
  • Throwing things at one another

Most parents must be familiar with these tactics and you may have seen even more annoyance between your children. It may appear so unnecessary to you and hurtful because you don’t like watching your kids be mean or hurt one another. Sometimes handling sibling fights is not simple for parents, making them more worried about their kids.

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Examples of Sibling Rivalry:

Let’s take some common examples to understand what sibling conflicts look like. A 4-year-old girl sits on her 6-month-old brother while he is lying on the bed. When the parents asked the girl what happened she replied, I don’t like him, I don’t want to live with him in my house. 

Your 4 and 7-year-old boys are happily playing with their cars and toy trains and suddenly you hear them screaming and fighting for who pushed the car or something like that. After hearing their voice when you reach the room, you see, they are shouting, throwing toys, and refusing to play with one another.

And now talking about the everyday story of almost every house. You have two kids (7 and 10 years old) and after dinner every day, they start arguing about watching their favorite TV show. It’s frustrating for parents to see this every day before bed. They never reach an agreement on this, each kid believes his/her choice should win. 

Why do sibling fights occur:

If we try to see it from the child’s perspective, your older kid was the only one whom you used to love and care for. For example, when you have your first child, your whole world revolves around that baby. He is the only owner of his toys; his demands are fulfilled and he is the only focus of his parents. Then you plan for a second baby that is a girl and you introduce her to your older one. He may be happy at first to get a sister but later when he sees you being busier with the little one, he may grow jealous. Now your elder one has to share his parents, their love, attention, and toys with the younger one.

Sometimes children express their feelings about how they are feeling but some children are not able to express that they are feeling ignored or they need your attention just like the little one. When kids could not express their feelings they expressed them through verbal frustrations, misbehaving, yelling, pushing, hitting and refusing to share, etc. 

A couple of things can be the reason for the rivalry between two children. A bit of competition and jealousy between brothers and sisters is normal that can flicker into disputes and squabbling. But some factors might encourage sibling battles and transform normal fights into severe ones. 

sibling fights

  • Developing needs:

Changing needs, identities, and worries may influence how they relate to their siblings. Let’s understand through an example, usually, toddlers are protective of their belongings such as toys and at every turn of their age, they learn to affirm their will. So, when a baby sibling touches the toddler’s stuff, it’s more likely that the toddler may respond aggressively. 

School-age children carry a solid concept of impartiality and fairness so may not be able to understand why their parents treat their siblings differently. They may feel that their brother or sister is getting special treatment. However teenage kids are in a phase where they are growing a sense of liberation and individuality and may feel bitter about assisting with household duties, spending time, or taking care of their younger siblings. So, these kinds of differences impact the way your children fight with each other.

  • Individual personalities:

Particular temperaments of your children such as adaptability, mood, and deposition, and their personalities influence how better they get along. Every individual holds a unique personality, not everybody is the same.  For example, if one child is specifically anxious and pulled to parents to get love and comfort, the other child may grow hard feelings about it because he/she also desires the same kind of attention. It can be the reason for the rivalry between two children.

  • Special desires/emotional problems:

Some children require special care or attention from their parents due to an illness, developmental delays, or emotional issues. Your parenting styles may also get disturbed in such cases because you have to give more time to one child. Now what happens is the other child may consider it as inequality because kids are kids, and they may not understand why their parents are paying more attention to their siblings. As a result, they may act negatively to grab your attention or because of the fear that what is the problem with the other child.

  • Home environment:

Parents’ behavior and home environment have a huge effect on your kids. The way you handle disagreements and problems at home establishes an impactful example for your children. If parents resolve their skirmishes without being aggressive and respectful and productively, their children will adopt it when they have issues with each other. It will also help you while handling sibling fights as you can show them examples of how you deal with fights. On the other hand, if parents regularly shout, argue loudly, and slam the doors while they have problems, their kids are more likely to pick these bad habits and behave similarly. 

Parent’s Concerns About The Rivalry Between Two Children:

Sibling quarrels often leave parents worn out and shattered. They feel exhausted by the annoying bickering and speculating about why their children fight a lot. Parents want to know the parenting tips for promoting warm and strong relationships between their children that they will carry forward in their adulthood. 

I am very sure you can relate to the reactions; parents have reported their children bickering. These reactions include anger, helplessness, furious, out of control, sad, disappointment, confusion, frustration, hopelessness, infatuation, disturbed, and overwhelmed.

Parents scare that this kind of negative feeling makes their kids:

  • Get hurt physically or emotionally
  • Will keep fighting forever
  • Have bitter relationships in their adulthood
  • Will lack understanding and responsiveness
  • Not caring for others
  • Have damaged self-esteem due to chronic conflicts

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Simple Parenting Tips to Help Your Children Get Along Well:

sibling fights

  • The first and most important thing is don’t play beloveds, all your kids should be your favorites.
  • Don’t compare your kids with one another whatever the matter is. Every kid is special in his way. For example, don’t say something like your sister is so good at sports, why not you? 
  • Let your children be who they are. Don’t force things on them and don’t label them.
  • Teach your children to cooperate rather than compete. For example, rather than an ordinary race, make them race the clock to arrange their stuff or toys in the right place. 
  • Try to recognize the patterns or times when the fights occur more frequently. For example, if your kids fight more often when they are hungry or just before nap time, you can try making routine changes to avoid these battles.
  • Teach your children positive ways to grab each other’s attention. You can play with your kids to show them how to speak to others, share their toys and ask them to play. 
  • You may give different privileges to your younger and older children as per their age but your children may take it as inequality. You should be prepared for this and give them a proper explanation for your decisions. Assure them that whatever you do, you do your best to meet your kids’ particular needs. 
  • Plan some fun-filled family activities to make your children have joyful experiences together. It will act as a barrier during the conflict. It’s easy to resolve your skirmishes with someone you have heartfelt memories with. 
  • Make sure you do not take sides unless you see one kid hurting the other without incitement, because it’s obvious that each of them will blame the other one. 
  • It’s better to set limits. Make it clear to your children that they can’t do name-calling or any kind of physical fights. 
  • Teach sympathy and understanding to your children. Encourage them to place themselves in the shoes of their siblings to promote empathy.

Best parenting tips to handle sibling fights:

Generally, whenever your children fight, try to not get involved if possible. Let them negotiate their battles on their own, if it doesn’t work and the matter goes long then you can get involved. If you are always playing peacemakers and interfering in their fights, they will not learn how they should resolve their clashes. 

You can’t remove it anyways, but these parenting styles can help you handle sibling fights:

  • Arrange a one-on-one time for your children:

Make sure you devote some time to reading through each of your children individually regularly. Spend some quality time individually with all kids doing their activities together. It will help you know them better and enable harmony during their fights.

  • Create a teamwork tradition at your home:

When a family encourages team culture at home, children learn from that. Parents and siblings working as a team in the direction of common goals make them get along well. Children learn that they are a team so they should not compete against each other. 

  • Try to give them their individual space:

Every child requires their own space to take a break from their siblings and parents as well. So always pressuring them to be with each other may go wrong. For example, if your children share the same room, you can specify zones in the house where each of them can retreat when they need a break from each other. 

  • Avoid interfering in their disputes:

Some parents may feel it weird to stay out of their kids’ fights but trust me it works. I believe it is among the best parenting tips. Ignoring the usual quarrels of your children is the finest thing you can do. Don’t give attention to the dispute and do something else in the other room. 

By ignoring firstly, you are not rewarding them with your attention for their negative behavior and secondly, you are allowing them to work on their arguments. However, if the clash intensifies into hitting, physical throwdown or you feel intervening is required you have to get involved.

  • Try to tranquil the controversy:

When you see the argument is not reaching an agreement or the issue spirals you need to step in. Remember that you can’t take sides because it may give a boost to the conflict. Even if you know who started it all, try not to make any judgments. Let them calm down, and listen to each one’s story. Rather than blaming any one of them or taking a side, encourage them to reach a solution or suggest a solution that is helpful for all. 

  • Have a good time celebrating individuality:

There are fewer chances of sibling rivalry if they feel that their parents appreciate and celebrate them individually. Avoid labeling and categorizing them and them be special for you by celebrating their exclusive talents and success. If your son loves playing outdoors, put on your shoes and play with them. If your daughter loves drawing or painting, spend some time with her doing that. Try to make them feel that they all are special to you equally. 

  • Listen to your children:

Whenever a fight occurs, most kids are emotional and upset. Listen to them without judging them and regard their feelings. However, sentiments are not a justification for aggressive or negative behavior but your kids are more probable to cooperate when you hear them. Make them realize that you are here to listen to them and their words can help solve the problem. 

  • Present problem-solving approaches to your children:

Disputes happen in every relationship, what matters is how you see them and solve them. Teach the same thing to your children. Take fights as a chance to equip your kids with problem-solving tackles to avoid future disagreements. Show them ways how they can compromise during fights with their siblings and approach the same situation more appropriately and positively. 

  • Organize regular family meetings:

Just like we do in our offices. Organize family meetings where each member can put forward their thoughts. You can discuss house rules, household responsibilities, menus, etc. Whatever you decide after the agreement of all members, write down those things on paper and hang them in a common area of the house. It will remind everyone to create a happy and healthy environment inside the house.

Sibling Rivalry is Predictable but Manageable:

Sibling battles are meant to happen. You can’t blame anyone for that but when you feel the disputes are intensifying or upsetting the harmony of your house, it’s time to look into the matter and take action. Be patient and don’t lose yourself as your kids are growing old and they are learning new strategies. you need to understand that conflict resolution is an innovative skill, give your kids time to learn the skill set. Sibling feuds are manageable if you understand the causes and other aspects. If you are failing while handling sibling fights you can talk to a professional to get custom-made solutions. 

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