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Coping With Sibling Rivalry

Published in Parenting
Written by  13 November 2017 Be the first to comment!
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Concerns About Sibling Rivalry

As long as there is more than one child in the house, sibling rivalry is inevitable. The bane of many parents’ existence, sibling fighting often leaves Moms and Dads feeling exhausted and worn out by all the bickering and teasing, and wondering why their kids seem to fight so much.

They want to find out how they can promote a warm and close relationship between their offspring that will carry forward into their children’s adulthood.

You may relate to some of the following reactions we have heard from parents about how they feel about their children squabbling:  angry, furious, helpless, out of control, exasperated, hopeless, powerless, sad, confused, disappointed, frustrated, overwhelmed, agitated, and less frequently, amused.

Parents worry that their children will:

  • get physically or emotionally hurt,
  • have their self-esteem damaged especially if the conflicts are chronic,
  • become bullies,
  • never stop fighting,
  • have poor relationships as adults,
  • lack empathy,
  • not care for others.

The different forms of sibling rivalry

Parents are often amazed at the different forms that sibling rivalry can take and how creative and mean children can be to their siblings.  Here are just a few of the ways that children can provoke one another:

  • name-calling,
  • blaming,
  • poking,
  • stealing things,
  • lying,
  • challenging a belief,
  • arguing,
  • simply looking at each other,
  • tattling,
  • breaking something that belongs to the other one,
  • hitting,
  • throwing something at the other one,
  • hiding something that is important to the other one.

Some of these tactics are probably agonizingly familiar to you, and you can probably come up with a few more ingenious ways that your children seem to torment one another!

To most parents, all the fighting seems so unnecessary, gets on their nerves, and can be upsetting because they don’t like seeing their children hurt each other or be mean to one another.  And many parents have added pressure because they feel like they have to resolve the problems like a wise old owl!

The Benefits of Sibling Rivalry

Weary parents often wonder:  Why do kids fight?  It makes no sense to us adults!
Actually, it is interesting to think about the sibling fighting from your children’s perspective. 

Why children fight

They may:

  • get attention from you.
  • feel powerful.
  • get a break from boredom. Annoying a sibling may seem more exciting than anything else going on.
  • connect with their sibling.
  • get physical contact.
  • become the ‘favored one’ in their parents’ eyes by making their sibling look bad.

These are all things that children need, but fighting with a sibling is not the best way for them to achieve these goals; you can guide them to find more appropriate ways to get their needs met.

What children learn from the fighting

In addition, children actually do learn important life skills through the arguing they do with their siblings.  They learn to:

  • deal with power struggles.
  • manage conflict and resolve differences.
  • be assertive and to stand up for their position.
  • negotiate and compromise.




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