top of page

Sibling Rivalry

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

When I was growing up, my sister was my best (and sometimes worst) friend! We would get along fine… until we didn't! Being together often brought out our unique competitiveness and our drive to be independent. People often fall into either believing that all siblings should always get along, or that fighting siblings is normal and we should let it work its way out. However, if you have siblings in your house, you know how much disruption can possibly be caused to the family unit.

So why do siblings fight and how can parents help?

Most fights between siblings start because they are different! Children are at different developmental stages and this will impact on how they communicate and co-operate with each other . For example, an older sibling may have more patience than a younger one when it comes to taking part in joint activities. As with a lot of siblings, my sister and I would compete for our parents attention, so add a slight dusting of jealously in the mix and you have yourself a few ingredients for sibling rivalry.

Sometimes we think we can avoid sibling rivalry by keeping children apart but this is counter-productive, as well as almost impossible! Children do need to learn to deal with frustration and the difficulties that come when working with others. The best we can do is to make this as easy as possible, and some strategies are listed below.

As always, being clear and consistent with your communication will be beneficial. If the elder sibling is staying up later, explain why this is to the younger one so they do not think they are getting preferential treatment. A calm explanation such as “Sam is allowed to stay up later because she is older and doesn’t get as tired”, can defuse situations and stop one sibling from feeling more important than the other.

I remember my younger sister Evie feeling very upset when she saw that she was unable to interesting things such as go to school like me. Help this situation by highlighting the inherent privileges. They get to spend time at home with you which the elder sibling doesn’t get to do. Maybe set time aside during the day create additional privileges such as joining a local library for story time or a music group so they feel they are doing interesting things too.

Children are very much influenced by what you say and how you act. If they see you explode with anger if something doesn’t go right, they will mimic this behaviour with their siblings. It will be difficult, but try to set a great example with how you handle arguments constructively, how you model patience (especially with younger children), and be right there with praise for them when they demonstrate this with their siblings. Don't forget, if they see you make comparisons or relative value judgements, they will see this as good behaviour to copy.

Respect your children’s space. A sibling can often want to join in and play when the other one doesn’t and is happy being on their own. It can be really easy to give in and allow them to continue clamber over the other sibling’s stuff. Remember that their stuff is important to them and it is ok to not have to share everything. Forcing siblings to play and share everything all the time can lead to resentment further down the line.

Just remember, a bit of sibling rivalry is good. It encourages them to stand up for themselves and will help their confidence to grow. Having the opportunity to work out solutions to problems is a skill every child should learn so they can co-operate with others, learn to resolve arguments and compromise.

Thank you to my sister Evie, who helped me learn valuable lessons in teamwork, and sharing and well done for winning the “I can scream the loudest” competition!!


Recent Posts

See All


Yorumlara kapatıldı.
bottom of page