Ways to Manage Sibling Rivalry in Children


Controlling a child’s anger, frustration and jealousy towards a sibling is often a difficult experience for parents. The problem is very complex and seems to have no easy solution. But there are some things that parents can do when they find their children fighting and competing with each other over small things and becoming more and more jealous towards each other.

The problem is worse when both the kids are under the age of four. While parents’ intervention brings peace momentarily, the rivalry may again evolve due to the temperament and needs of the kids. Here are some of the best ways that parents can do to manage sibling rivalry in children.

Never Compare Your Children

Children should be raised in collaboration and not in competition. It is never good for the parents – and for the children – to tell that one child is better than the other in any way. If possible, avoid even family games where one kid wins and the other loses. Splitting can make one kid turn against the other forever. Every child thinks that he or she is unique and it is rightly so. Instead of comparing kids, give each their own goals and the level of expectation that will only relate to them.

Don’t Suppress Their Feelings

Parents should never supress and dismiss feelings of anger and resentment in children. It is very normal for kids to get angry with each other and even have the impulse to physically fight. Instead of supressing them right away, try to teach them to learn self-control and avoid dangerous and cruel ways. Acknowledge their anger but tell them that it is not right to hit each other. Sitting down and talking through the issue will help in building self-control.

Let Children Settle Their Own Differences

While this parenting advice may sound good, it is terribly unfair in practice. Sometimes, parents need to step in and mediate to settle down any differences between the siblings and at other times they have to provide an environment for the kids to settle down their differences on their own. This will give them an opportunity to understand the rules better.

Inculcate Family Values

Inculcating sharing values and love and affection among children will help in making them care for each other and kids will become even ready to accommodate each other. This will in turn help in creating a close bond between them and even work as a natural bulwark against sibling rivalry. Replacing competition with cooperation and closely observing family values will teach them about family values and to help each other.

Set Firm Rules

Set ground rules that define accepting behaviour in kids. Make it clear that yelling at each other, fighting and slamming the doors are not allowed as is teasing. Make them accountable for their rude behaviour. Setting firm rules will allow the kids to respect the feelings of each other and discussing any differences with parents rather than taking the matter into their own hands. This will also help them learn the value of cooperation and coexistence.

Give Equal Attention

Sibling rivalry is also a result of lack of attention. When a kid feels that he or she is lacking the attention of parents due to the presence of the other, this will breed rivalry among them as they both want to attract the parents’ attention. This kind of emotional outbursts can be dealt with paying fair and equal attention to both the kids. While it is important to spend time together as a family, it is as much important to spend time even individually with each kid as they will feel the love and care at every stage.