Three Healthy and Effective Ways to Deal With Sibling Rivalry

young girl yelling at her brother

There is a very good reason why the term sibling rivalry came to be. There is hardly a chance for two or more siblings growing up together not to experience any type of rivalry or disagreements. However, how such moments are handled can set a tone for their relationship, both in childhood and adulthood. Even if, on the surface, you’re caught mitigating squabbles over who gets the last slice of pizza and who has better toys, the underlying reason stems from family dynamics. Here are three effective ways to deal with such rivalry.

1. Encourage and Celebrate Individuality

two young girls holding hands happily
Sibling rivalry can stem from such factors as birth order and competing for the attention of the parents. Although facts such as temperament or age differences are impossible to change, there are ways to mitigate the resulting rivalry. By avoiding assigning labels or categories, treat each child as the individual they are and make sure that they feel like their individuality is being celebrated and valued. If one child enjoys video games, grab a controller and play with them. If the other is a pet and animal enthusiast, encourage them and talk about their favorite topic.

2. Create Cooperative Sibling Environments

sisters playing video games
Never encourage competition between your children by comparing them to one another or playing favorites. Instead, teach each sibling to compromise and create opportunities for cooperation, such as joined arts and crafts projects or team sports. Set a good example in the way that you communicate and cooperate with your spouse.

3. Intervene Appropriately

Young pouty sisters arguing with arms crossed and their stressed mom sitting on a sofa in the background
When fights and disagreements between siblings occur, it’s important to handle them right. Don’t play the blame game and focus on each child’s role in the argument. Listen actively and respect each child’s feelings. Try to provide tools for proper communication so they can better mitigate arguments in the future. If punishments are necessary, have that conversation in private to not shame the child in front of other siblings.