Managing sibling rivalry

Squabbles among kids are inevitable but what can you do to foster better cooperation between siblings?

Finding the patience to weather your children’s bickering with one another can be a challenge. It’s easy to get frustrated by it, but there are a number of things you can do to prevent these conflicts and create a more peaceful home environment. It’s helpful to understand that kids don’t fight because they prefer the other’s toy or they genuinely want the other’s muffin over their own one. Children usually have conflicts because of family dynamics.

Often they’re competing for your attention or are simply at different developmental stages. These things can cause instances of envy or lack of understanding and this is perfectly natural. However, it does mean that some rivalry is inevitable – but it can be lessened.


Here are a few parenting approaches you can take to nurture a family culture where fighting between your children is unusual.

Bonding activities

Nurture your children’s relationship with each other by providing plenty of quality family time where they can bond and create happy memories together. This encourages more respect between them and a healthier, more positive dynamic. Some ideas for fun activities include cooking together, eating dinner together, playing card games or board games and going for a family hike.

The environment matters

Here, ‘environment’ means the emotional environment. This is set by the way your family learns to interact, talk to one another and generally relate to each other. The good news is that you have all the power here! Set a good example by never encouraging competition between your children or comparing them to each other, as this fosters jealousy and a fear that you don’t love them equally.

It’s better if you focus on creating chances for discussion, bonding, compromise and working together.

Stay composed

If you can remain calm, cool and collected in the face of these conflicts, your children will absorb the message that this is the appropriate response to the situation and, over time, will learn to follow suit. Conversely, if you raise your voice or use an aggravated tone with your kids, this will fuel the sense of tension and escalate the argument.

Honour their individual personalities

Spend some one-on-one time hanging out with each child and make sure they feel understood by you. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It can be simple things that let your little one know that you love them as an individual. If one child enjoys swimming, grab your swimwear and go for a splash together in the pool.

If the other likes to play video games, sit beside them and join in. Remember, all any child really wants is to feel seen, acknowledged and appreciated for who they are. This is especially true when it comes to their mother! Kids are much less likely to feel the need to compete and argue if they feel celebrated as an individual.

With these approaches, you will be better able to make bickering a rarity in your house and promote respect and friendship between your children.

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