Sibling rivalry can be a big test for any stay at home parent to deal with. This rivalry can be quite competitive as siblings compete for their parent’s attention, but it is normal and actually leads to relationship development. Even though this is the case with siblings a lot of moms and dads find it hard to comprehend the constant bickering associated with this bonding process.

The important thing for parents to remember is that sibling rivalry is normal and even though it can be frustrating, it is a sign that your children are developing healthy relationships. There are a few things you can do as a parent to help ease the tension and encourage healthy sibling relationships.

The different types of sibling rivalry

There are two different types of sibling rivalry: 

Horizontal sibling rivalry

This type of rivalry happens when siblings are close in age and compete with each other for attention and resources. 

Vertical sibling rivalry

This type of rivalry happens when there is a large age difference between siblings and the older sibling feels threatened or jealous of the younger sibling.

Some tips for coping with sibling rivalry at home

Although sibling rivalry can be difficult to deal with as a parent, there are some strategies you can use to help ease the tension and encourage healthy sibling relationships. Some of these strategies include: 

  • Setting clear boundaries and rules around conflict resolution or altercations
  • Ensuring that you provide equal amounts of attention and affection to each sibling
  • Promoting healthy competition by participating in activities together, such as sports or games
  • Creating shared family traditions or rituals that bring siblings together

By implementing these strategies and working to foster positive sibling relationships, parents can help their children learn how to get along with others and cope with conflict in a healthy way.

How to deal with envy and jealousy in siblings

Envy and jealousy are common feelings among siblings, especially in children who are close in age. Some tips for dealing with sibling jealousy or envy include:

  • Talking to your child about their feelings of envy or jealousy, and helping them understand why these emotions occur.
  • Avoid comparing siblings to each other or giving preferential treatment to one sibling over another
  • Encouraging sibling bonding by participating in activities or shared interests together, such as sports or games
  • Discussing the concept of sibling rivalry with your child and helping them to understand that sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up

Why sibling rivalry happens in the first place

While sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up, there are a few reasons why it may occur. Some of the reasons why sibling rivalry may occur include: 

Differences in personality or temperament

Siblings may have different personality types or temperaments, which can lead to conflict.

Age and developmental differences

If siblings are close in age, they may compete for resources and attention.

Parental favouritism or unequal treatment of siblings

If parents show more affection to one sibling than another, sibling rivalry can occur as a result.

By understanding the underlying factors that contribute to sibling rivalry, parents can better help their children cope with and understand this common childhood experience.

How to help your children get along

Although sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up, there are some things parents can do to help their children get along. Some tips for helping siblings get along include: 

Encouraging communication and resolution of conflict

One way to help encourage sibling communication and conflict resolution is to provide a safe environment for them to do so. This may include setting clear boundaries and expectations around fighting, and providing a space for them to talk things out.

Helping siblings understand and accept each other’s differences

Encouraging positive sibling interactions can help reduce sibling rivalry. Some ways to do this include participating in shared activities, focusing on each child's unique strengths and talents, and encouraging communication and resolution of conflict. By implementing these strategies, parents can help their children learn how to get along with each other and cope with sibling rivalry in a healthy way.

Intervening in a sibling rivalry

As a parent, you always want what's best for your children whether their young children or adults. Let's go through 5 quick ways you can help your children with intervention if their rivalry gets out of hand.

1. Listen

During their fight, parents should listen to their children and respect their feelings in order to help them solve problems peacefully. 

2. Remove Blame From The Equation

When intervening, it's crucial that parents remove any blame from the situation. This way, children can focus on resolving the issue rather than feeling defensive.

3. Give Them A Way To Solve Their Issues

In order to prevent future disputes with the same issue, you can provide ways for them to resolve the issue rather than fight about it. Give them examples of what they could have done or said to each other in a positive way rather than default to their usual negative behaviour.

4. Keep Your Punishments Private

When a dispute occurs it's often too easy to intervene with all children listening. This can cause shame to a particular child or give more ammunition for the other children to use against them. Instead, set each child aside and speak with them privately, treat them like adults even if they are young children. Give them respect and set a good example for them to follow.

5. Hold A Family Meeting

Have everyone gather in a particular area and hold frequent family meetings. In these meetings, everyone can have a chance to speak what's on their mind. This can lead to a positive environment where they can discuss issues and try to resolve them in a civilised manner.

Final Thoughts

Sibling rivalry is a common experience for most children, but that doesn't mean it's always easy to deal with. By understanding the underlying causes of sibling rivalry and implementing strategies to help your children get along, you can help them learn positive sibling interactions and cope with sibling rivalry in a healthy way.

Common Questions About Sibling Rivalry

Is it normal for siblings to fight frequently?

While sibling rivalry is normal and can often be a healthy part of growing up, frequent fighting or conflict between siblings can indicate a more serious problem. If you are concerned about the conflict between your children, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist or counsellor who can help you understand the underlying causes of the conflict and provide advice on how to best resolve it.

What is the most common cause of sibling rivalry?

There is no one definitive cause of sibling rivalry, as it can be influenced by a number of factors. Some of the most common causes include differences in personality or temperament, age and developmental differences between siblings, and unequal treatment or favouritism on the part of parents.

What can I do as a parent to minimize sibling rivalry?

There are a number of things parents can do to help minimize sibling rivalry, such as encouraging communication and resolution of conflict, helping siblings understand and accept each other’s differences, and encouraging positive sibling interactions. Additionally, seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor may be helpful if you are concerned about the level of conflict between your children.

What do you do when adult siblings hate each other?

If you are concerned about the sibling rivalry between adult siblings, it may be helpful to speak with a therapist or counsellor who can help you understand the underlying causes of the conflict and provide advice on how to best resolve it. Additionally, encouraging communication and resolution of conflict, helping siblings understand and accept each other’s differences, and encouraging positive sibling interactions may be helpful in reducing sibling rivalry.