How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry

How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry

Dealing with sibling rivalry can be hectic, here are reminders to help you.



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5 min read

Sibling rivalry is inevitable whether you have 2 kids or 8 kids. Watching your kids treat each other poorly is frustrating and stressful. One minute your kids are playing happily together, sharing their toys, laughing about how silly their stuffed animals look wearing wigs, and sunglasses. Another minute, they’re at each other’s throats, fighting and name calling for no real reason except to outdo one another.

Sibling rivalry is normal.  It is usual to see problems start soon after the birth of a new child. Here are some steps you can take to keep the peace in your home and to encourage more love and less competition between or among your kids, from birth to growing up.

Make them friends before the birth of the younger child

It’s important to prepare your older child for the birth of his younger sibling. Show him pictures of a baby growing in mommy’s belly. Let him pat the baby beneath the bulge, talk to the baby, and feel the baby kick.

You may also want to sit down with your child and browse through his baby photo album. Show him what she looked like right after birth, coming home from the hospital, nursing, and having his diaper changed. By replaying the older child’s baby events, he may be better prepared for a replay of a brother or sister.

Make the older sibling feel important

Make sure that you have a few small gifts in reserve for the older sibling when friends lavish presents and attention on the new baby. Let him be the one to unwrap the baby’s gifts and test the rattles. Give your child a job in the family organization. To pull the child out of the “I want to be a baby, too” belief, play up his importance to you, personally and practically. For instance, when an admirer looks at your new baby and says, “My, what a wonderful baby,” reply with,  “Yes, we now have two beautiful children.”

Share time

What bothers older children is sharing you with the new baby. Since the concept of sharing is foreign to children under three, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell to the older child the concept of sharing his mother. It sounds good to say that you’ll give your older child equal amounts of your time, but in practice that may be unrealistic or challenging to do.

Explain to your older one why his baby sibling needs a bit more time and attention, but make sure to spend some time with him doing homework, reading a book, or even tucking him to bed at night.

Every child is a favorite

Make all your children feel special. If your child asks you a question, “Who do you love more – me or Matthew?” give the politically correct answer – “I love you both in special ways.” Mention special qualities: “You are my firstborn, and no one else can be my firstborn child” (or second, or first daughter, etc.). Don’t fall into the “who’s best” trap. Children don’t expect you to say who’s better, they are only fishing for reassurance about how you feel about them.

Siblings are forever

Help your children be life-long friends. Sometime during middle childhood (ages 6 through 10), impress upon your children what brother or sister means. Children sense that blood is thicker than water, and that their brothers and sisters will ultimately be their best friends. Once other friends have moved or drifted away, your family friends will always be there when you need them. While friends come and go, siblings are forever.


Sears, William. “20 Tips to Stop Quibbling Siblings and Promote Sibling Harmony.”, unknown publishing date. Web. 17 February 2014.

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