Sibling Rivalry: Ways to Avoid the Fights

23 Jan

written by: Angie Shiflett, Yahoo! Contributor Network

Sibling Rivalry is very common in families that have more than one child. It can range from very severe cases to the occasional case. It is never easy for parents when this occurs. When I brought home my second child from the hospital and my oldest son saw the baby for the first time, I will never forget how he ran and cried. He certainly did not care for the idea of a younger brother, and he was only sixteen months old! I did not know much about sibling rivalry at that point, but nearly five years later, I can assure you that I am quickly learning.

My sister and I were ten and a half years apart, and I am the oldest. We really did not experience a lot of sibling rivalry. In fact, the most I ever remember us fighting about growing up was space restrictions and requirements. As I got older, I wanted my space, and, of course, her being the youngest and looking up to me, she always wanted to follow me around. However, with my kids, and the fact that they are very close in age, I see a little bit of this every single day. I have learned, over time, various ways to deal with this issue, and in this article, I will share with you what I have learned. Keep in mind; however, as they grow older, you must learn to tweak the system a little bit. As your children grow and change, the sibling rivalry will grow and change with them.

I have found that most of the issues that my kids have had has to do with toys and taking turns. My husband and I have adjusted to the fact that when we purchase items for our children, we must purchase similar items as to not cause a conflict. Many things that we purchase are identical. If the items come in the colors that our children consider their favorite, blue and green, we will purchase one of each color. We have found that by purchasing items in this manner, the fighting is reduced and things are much more peaceful.


Another way to ensure that the amount of fighting between siblings is  reduced is by keeping your home as peaceful and calm as possible. I have seen households that always seem to be in an uproar, and the rivalry between siblings in those families is unbelievable! Be sure that there is not a lot of yelling, fighting, and stress. This will be helpful in dealing with sibling rivalry.

When the kids deserve to be punished for something that they have done, it is important to offer them choices. While not all parents may agree with this, my husband and I feel that this works well. When the children have a say in their discipline, it helps them to understand that they are taking responsibility for their actions and they are more capable of understanding why they are being punished. An example would be that they are fighting over a toy and it gets a little out of hand. We would sit down so that we are speaking to them at their level, explain why they are being punished, and allow them to take a few minutes in the corner, or lay down on the bed for a few minutes. Once the punishment is over, it is important to bring them back and have them convey what they understand about what just occurred so that you know that they have learned from the incident. Then tell them how proud you are of them for learning, give them a big hug and kiss and tell them you love them.

When punishing children with siblings, it can be difficult. It is especially difficult if only one of them is being punished. When using the time out method, be sure to understand the proper amount of time out is one minute per year. If they are six years old, then they should be placed in time out for six minutes, etc….

It is important to be as objective as possible when dealing with sibling rivalry and not take sides. Taking sides could actually make the situation much worse. Take time to hear both sides of the story and do not jump to conclusions, or be quick to anger. When you find that your children are playing well together, praise them for doing so well. Explain to them that the behavior they are performing is what you want to see more of. If you must, give them a sticker or a small token of appreciation for their cooperation. Keep in mind that it is always very important to point out the positive, especially when they understand pointing out the negative. Feeling good about themselves can reduce sibling rivalry almost completely.


This is lifted from The Yahoo! Contributor Network.

The Yahoo! Contributor Network allows writers, photographers, and videographers to share their knowledge and passion with hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Find your audience and earn money by publishing your unique perspectives on Associated Content and other Yahoo! sites.

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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Conflict Resolution


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