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The 2 Overlooked Causes of Sibling Rivalry

If you have more than one child, you are well aware that siblings fight. It’s just a fact. Some more than others, but it’s perfectly normal for all kids to get into battles over toys or the TV or who got more ice cream. But no matter how “normal” it is, it’s still no fun to be around. Listening to your kids constantly bicker and yell can be irritating, to say the least.

So what to do about your feisty little darlings? Well, in order to reduce the amount of warfare in your house, you need to know what’s causing it. Here are a couple of likely triggers.

1. Jealousy

Most experts agree that the root of sibling rivalry is usually jealousy. We all know kids don’t like to share. Well, they ESPECIALLY don’t like to share their parents! It can feel very threatening to them to see you lavish attention and love on their siblings.

Now, of course you need to pay attention to all your kids, so this isn’t something that is easily solved. But what you can do is make sure you’re spending lots of one-on-one time with your kids individually so they feel like they get you all to themselves sometimes.

2. Negative Role models

Unfortunately, this one might be on you, Mom and Dad. Think about the way you resolve conflict in your marriage, or how you interact with other family members or friends. Some families have fiery, passionate relationships where they shout to make their point. If that sounds familiar, remember that your child is watching you to see how to act. If you and your spouse are always getting angry and yelling or slamming doors, then your child has learned that this is how to interact with others. If you learn new ways to work things out with your loved ones and develop peaceful and respectful communication, it will go a long way toward changing how your kids interact with each other as well.

Quick tips for dealing with sibling rivalry

Even if you’re working on the root causes, you still need ways to handle the fighting when it happens. Here are my top suggestions.

  • Don’t interfere unless things are totally out of control

If you involve yourself every time they have a conflict, you will become part of the problem, fast. They will take mental notes on who you side with and it will only increase their resentment and frustration. They will also start depending on you to work out their issues every time and won’t learn to cooperate and find solutions themselves.

  • If things are getting heated, intervene and ask them to come up with a plan

With older kids, if it’s a situation where someone got kicked or punched, and then an argument started about exactly what the circumstances were, you can ask them to come up with a written document that they have to agree on, sharing the details of what happened.

  • Separate them or get them to take a break

Sometimes siblings just need to get away from each other for awhile. If they are younger kids, get them involved in separate activities. If they’re older, send them to different parts of the house so they can cool off.
Finally, remember to focus on the times they get along well. When my kids are playing a game together happily, I will often comment on how nicely they are all playing. It helps remind them that they DO actually like each other sometimes!

If you feel like you could use some guidance in solving some common behavioral challenges in children ages 2 -12, check out Kids: The Manual.  It’s a child-friendly discipline system that you can put into place to correct difficult child behaviors like tantrums, not listening, and more.

Get Kids: The Manual here.

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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