How to Handle Sibling Rivalry & Manage Fights

Sibling rivalry is common amongst children. However, parents can parents can play an important role in controlling the same. It is very necessary for parents to make children understand that the problems can be resolved without fighting. 


How to Handle Sibling Rivalry & Manage Fights

Read more to know about how sibling rivalry can be handled.

Sibling rivalry is as old as the Biblical times of Cain and Abel. It is a condition that can be defined as a variant of competition that borders on animosity between brothers and sisters, regardless of whether they are blood related or not. This is a parenting issue and is a normal phenomenon.

Siblings spend more time with each other that they do with their parents and this gives them the opportunity to fight and contest. Researcher Lorraine Friedman considers sibling rivalry as an epidemic. In one of her studies, she has accounted that 53 out of every 100 children end up abusing their brother or sister. An overwhelming 36 million acts involving sibling aggression happen each year.

While raising children, sibling rivalry can be very stressful and frustrating for parents. It all begins with the motive to get parental attention. Studies have reported that in the age group of 10-15 or the adolescent period, the intensity of sibling rivalry is the most.

Here are a few things that parents should do to reduce sibling rivalry.

Treat children as individuals – Every child has a unique trait and individuality. Once the parents recognise their individual accomplishments and related achievements, they will feel special and not left out or ignored. 

Praise them when they get along well – Parents need to be specific when they praise their children, watch out when they do things together and immediately appreciate their effort. This acts as a great motivation for good behavior and is more effective that instructing or preaching.

Spend time alone with each child – Every child craves for individual attention and parents should fulfill this desire, and follow a routine ‘special time-alone’ with each kid. It can be some simple acts like reading a book together or going out for a walk. It reduces rivalry tendencies and strengthens the bond between parents and children.

Be conscious on how you solve problems – Remember, your kids are constantly looking up at you to obtain a cue of the desirable behavior. Watch out on how you are getting along with other adults in the family and your spouse. If they find you engaging in conflicts, they will readily imbibe that trait. 

Love your kids – Shower love and affection on your kids through words and actions. When they feel wanted, they will not feel like fighting for attention.

Encourage your kids to spend some time alone – Engage each of your children to indulge and participate in activities that they must do on individual efforts. This will reduce the chances of constant competition and thus minimize conditions for rivalry.

Now, these are the facts that the parents must never do.

Do not compare – Avoid comparisons, even if they are positive. The moment you put one child as an example to another you are intensifying the rivalry.

Never take sides – During sibling fights always be a neutral bystander. They will involve you in arguments in order to gain control, but you must not step in unless the fight gets physical where you need to stop. Call an end to hostilities and refuse to entertain arguments or explanation from either side.

Do not overreact – If you overreact on a sibling dispute, they will understand that this is a great way to hold on your attentions and repeat their hostilities upon the slightest provocation.

How managing fights help in wholesome development.
  • Helps child to develop conflict management skills which in turn helps the child when he or she grows up as an individual.
  • Helps to raise child as a human being with an understanding nature.
  • Develops relationship management skills in child as he or she grows up.
  • Teaches the child to compromise on the petty issues without indulging in fights and helps to build strong bond with siblings. This quality is very essential raise a child as better individual.
  • Dealing with sibling rivalry becomes easier when you make the kids understand that there are alternatives to fighting. Discuss when there is disagreement, and resolve conflicts through negotiations and compromise on either side.