Why Do Siblings Fight? What Can I Do?

fighting siblings

According to the book Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems, sibling rivalry occurs in “just about every family with two or more children.” Why? Aren’t families supposed to be about love, friendship, and loyalty? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be about bickering, competition, and plenty of “That’s mine!”

Be careful not to encourage competition by making comparisons.

What are the reasons for sibling rivalry?
“The first place children make decisions about how they belong is in the family.” This is where they figure out who they are and what their purpose in life is.

Often believing only one child in the family can excel in a certain area, if one child shows academic aptitude, another may choose to develop athletic skills; if one is praised for her beauty, the other may work on a sense of humor, etc. And, as it often happens in a family, siblings may share many talents and qualities, creating an environment ripe for competition.

So what can you do about it?
There are ways to deal with sibling rivalry. For starters, you may want to examine yourself. Does the rivalry increase when you and your spouse are competitive? Children take behavioral cues from their parents; and if Mom and Dad frequently argue over parenting philosophies, finances, family activities, etc., children are likely to mimic this behavior.

Also, be careful not to encourage competition by making comparisons. “See how Tommy ate all his vegetables?” “Amy keeps her room clean.” “Linda never gets in trouble at school.” The intention of these comparisons is, of course, to motivate one child to follow another child’s example; however, your child may interpret it as, “so-and-so is better than me and Mom and Dad love him more.” Try avoiding these comparisons and see if that helps the situation.

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Why Do Siblings Fight? What Can I Do?

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6 comments

  1. jen says:

    That is a powerful image. Do you know the original source?

  2. Stephanie says:

    I like the advice about not introducing competition. Many parents do this without thinking about it

  3. mommy nhoj says:

    Before there was rivalry between me and my sister next to me. I never consider as such but she felt that way. She ran away twice but she got over it with a significant milestone in her life. We are closer now than we were teenagers!

  4. LIZ says:

    as a kid a fight with my brother for little things, but now than im growing up i love to have my brother with me

  5. Janice says:

    My children are grown and they still have rivalry. My siblings still have rivalries, and we all have grand children.

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