How To Manage Sibling Rivalry

Kids argue over toys - sibling rivalry

“Mom, she took my toy away and I had it first!” “No fair, he got to watch what he wanted on TV yesterday. It is my turn now.” Are these familiar sayings in your family? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Sibling rivalry is common in families. Learn what the advantages of these disagreements are and how to decrease this somewhat.

Believe it or not, but this is a way that siblings learn how to stand up for themselves and express what they want. It will actually help them learn how to deal with conflicts later in life. It’s important for them to try to work it out between themselves, but of course, there is a time that parents have to step in and help sort it out. I’ve discovered that many times when we as parents step in, we’re all of the sudden the “bad guys” and the siblings have patched up their differences. To help prevent this, be sure to listen to both sides and follow these tips below.

What can you do when your kids are arguing?

Try to let them work it out. Since this is a life skill they need to learn at some point in their life, let them do this under your watch. Be on the sidelines in case they need your assistance in settling the dispute.

Emphasize to them to use their words instead of hitting. This helps them learn how to articulate what the issue is and what they want.

Have them talk in normal voice instead of screaming. If they are frustrated, they may raise their voice to get their point across. This is a learning opportunity that many times, you can achieve better results by discussing in a normal voice.

Separate them until they can figure everything out calmly. Sometimes, they just need to be separated. We have “key words” that we’ve agreed that lets the others know, I need a few minutes to myself, and then we can discuss. If this is a family rule that everyone is in agreement with, then when these key words are said, it needs to be honored.

Re-direct them and perhaps have them play or do something completely different.

Have them take a deep breath. This is refreshing and a good technique to use when we feel stressed.

What can be done to help minimize arguments?

Show them what “right” looks like by how you handle differences with those around you. Kids are like sponges where they pick up what parents both say and do.

If they are sharing a snack, a tip I learned from my parents, is to have one of them divide the snack and the other one gets to choose which piece they want first. This usually is an incentive for them to divide it equally.

Make a house rule that no name calling or teasing is allowed. Kids can be so mean at times. While we cannot shield them from the world, they should know that they have a safe place at home where this is not allowed.

When kids work through their differences together, it helps them learn how to compromise. Compromising is a valuable tool for all ages. While the arguing can be stressful, minimize it by letting them develop the coping skills of working it out together calmly with their words. Be there to assist and remember kids mimic how we handle situations so let’s show them what right looks like.

sibling rivalry


Discover ways to manage to sibling rivalry. This can be a life lesson in how to deal with others when things do not go their way.

2 Replies to “How To Manage Sibling Rivalry”

  1. Janet and Seth,
    I enjoyed reading your blogs – nice mix of adventure, humor, and advice. So exciting that you are doing this together and sharing your life experiences with others!

    Keep on writing!

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