10 Parenting Tips to Handle Sibling Fights and Rivalry

Sibling Fights and Rivalry is a significant challenges during motherhood, that parents face when they have two or more children. Let's find out the causes of sibling rivalry and parenting tips to handle them gently.

Harleen Kaur
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handle sibling fight and rivalry

10 Parenting Tips to Handle Sibling Fights and Rivalry

You must be familiar with the term 'Sibling rivalry,' which refers to the jealousy, competition, and fighting between brothers and sisters (siblings).

It is a significant challenge during motherhood, that parents face when they have two or more children, and it lasts through the childhood phase, especially until they reach their teenage years.

Let's read about what is Sibling rivalry, its causes and Parenting Tips to handle or resolve them. 

What is Sibling Rivalry?

Sibling rivalry refers to the conflicts, jealousy and competition that arise among brothers and sisters. This rivalry often starts from disputes over shared desires or a need for attention. Children try to get their parent's focus or attention towards them through behaviours like teasing, arguing, or reporting negative actions of their siblings. 

At times, this rivalry can escalate into physical aggression, involving actions such as shouting, hitting, making hurtful remarks, name-calling, pulling legs, and teasing.

This may also start when the second child is born and the first child starts feeling they may also feel neglected, unfairly treated, resented with the arrival of a new baby at home and afraid of being replaced by the newborn.

While sibling rivalry is a common aspect of family dynamics and can serve as a motivator for children to strive for improvement, excessive disagreements and competition can be detrimental, potentially leaving lasting impacts on how children perceive themselves and their familial bonds."

What are the causes of Sibling Rivalry and Sibling Fights?

The main causes of sibling rivalry are:-

  • Age gap & birth order
  • Attention-seeking behaviour & jealousy. 
  • Comparison and competition prevailing in the family
  • Unfair parenting. Parents often struggle to treat their children fairly.
  • Lack of social skills among children as they don't have the skills to sort out disagreements.
  • Individual temperaments, or special needs.
  • When a new baby is introduced to a family the older sibling fears the baby will replace him or her.


10 Parenting Tips to Handle Sibling Fights and Rivalry:-

  • Prepare Your First Child for a New Baby: 

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Prepare Your First Child for a New Baby

Share the good news with your first child, making them super excited for the new baby, their Sibling. Getting young children involved in the process of preparing for the new baby will show them that they are important. Talk about what a cute baby they were and how much fun it will be to have another little one in the house. Remember no matter how ready your child may seem, once the baby is born, there will be an adjustment period.

  • Teach to Communicate Openly and To Empathize other feelings: 

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Teach your children to Communicate Openly and To Empathize other feelings

Assist children in expressing their feelings and understanding the feelings of others involved.  Help your children understand and empathize with each other's feelings. This builds compassion and a deeper bond between them. If your elder child feels neglected, he or she should feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns. Establishing open communication is crucial, and it is recommended that you begin doing so before the second child is born.

  • Guide your children, don't just lecture them:

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Guide your child, don't just lecture them or control them

If they come to you with complaints about their sibling or cousin, listen to them without passing immediate judgment. Help them find a way to resolve the issue, and explain the potential consequences of fighting with their sibling. Also, emphasize the potential losses if they don't communicate with the other party. Manage the situation with wisdom, rather than solely focusing on teaching values.

  • Provide older children with both privileges and responsibilities:

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Provide older children with both privileges and responsibilities while handling siblings' rivalry

Assist them in learning how to handle provocative behaviour from their younger siblings. While older children should enjoy certain privileges due to their age, it's important to emphasize that every privilege comes with a responsibility. This includes looking after the younger ones and sometimes making sacrifices for them.

  • Stay Neutral and Avoid taking sides:

    How to Determine if You Should Stay Neutral in a Fight Between Loved Ones
    Stay Neutral and Avoid taking sides while Resolving conflict among siblings//Wikihow

You are not allowed to shout or take sides. Stay calm, and natural and just listen. It's important to treat each child fairly and address conflicts objectively. Remember, even a well-behaved child may have moments of misbehaviour. Roles may change, so be smart when you judge the situation and avoid taking sides, especially in front of them.

  • Spend Quality Family Time Together: 

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Spend Quality Family Time Together

Set aside special one-on-one time with each child. Dedicate time to activities that emphasize the meaning and benefits of being in a family. This helps them feel valued and can reduce potential feelings of jealousy.

  • Teach Conflict Resolution Skills:

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Teach Conflict Resolution Skills to your children

Help your children learn how to resolve conflicts on their own. Encourage them to listen to each other and find solutions together. You can offer guidance but don't try to control their matter. Let them come up with their resolutions and it helps them build problem-solving skills for their future life.

  • Encourage Positive Behavior and Address Bullying or Aggressive Behavior Promptly:

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Address Bullying or Aggressive Behavior Promptly

Praise and reward moments of cooperation and kindness between siblings to reinforce positive behaviour among them. In case one child is consistently displaying aggressive behaviour towards another, it needs to be addressed immediately.

  • Avoid Comparisons and Promote Individual Interests:

Helping Your Child Adjust to a New Sibling
Avoid Comparisons and Promote Individual Interests

Avoid comparing one child to another. Each child is unique with their strengths and weaknesses. Encourage each child to pursue their interests and hobbies. This fosters a sense of individuality and reduces competition

  • Model Respectful Behavior:

Be a positive role model for your children by demonstrating respectful and loving behaviour in your relationships. How you behave with others, and how you handle other successes and achievements, sets an example for your children to follow.

Remember, it's normal for siblings to have disagreements. It's a part of their learning and growth process. By providing a supportive and loving environment, you can help them healthily navigate these conflicts and enjoy your motherhood as well as their childhood.


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