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Ask a Therapist: Hoq to Stop Sibling Rivalry

All siblings fight. And it always drives parents nuts. Here are some tips to help you teach your children to get along. And some tips when you can just let it go.
Aaron Anderson, FamilyShare Modified: July 21, 2014 at 6:30 am •  Published: July 24, 2014

Dear Aaron,

I have four kids ages 14, 12, 9 and 6. We're normally a pretty happy family that get along well together and do lots of fun things together. Like this summer we went to the Grand Canyon and had a great time — most of the time. But there are times when, even when we're having a lot of fun, the fun gets spoiled by the kids' fighting. It's nothing awful (i.e. there's no blood and nobody goes days without talking afterwards) but it's still really annoying and puts a dark cloud over whatever it is that we're doing.

I know that siblings can't get along all the time, but it still bothers me when they fight — a lot. As a parent, how can I help my children get along better?


Sick of Sibling Rivalry

Dear Sick of Sibling Rivalry,

First of all, you can join the sick-of-sibling-rivalry-club with the millions of parents in the world. Sibling rivalry is a very common thing. And it bothers all parents.

Secondly, you hit a nail on the head when you said that siblings can't get along all the time. As children, our siblings are our first peer group. So all the drama that you see among friends at school you'll also see at home with your kids. When you think about it, it's amazing there's not even more drama. After all, your children spend a lot more time at home than they do at school. And at school they at least get to pick who they hang out with.

As a concerned parent, it's natural to want to stop the sibling rivalry. It makes for a more peaceful home and it encourages your children to love and respect each other. And if they learn it now, then they'll always be able to turn to each other when they grow up, too. So here are some tips of how you can help your children stop their rivalry.

Give positive praises in front of your children

Everybody loves to receive praises. And when your children hear you give praises about their siblings, it gives them an example of ways to show praise and love for each other. They may feel temporarily jealous when they hear you praise their sibling but when it becomes their turn to be praised, they'll realize that the jealousy isn't necessary because you love them, too. A lot of sibling rivalry is because of jealousy. So by showing them how to overcome jealousy by giving liberal praises to everybody, will show them good things about their siblings and will help them to appreciate each other for the good things they do.

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