Help Your Kids Navigate Sibling Rivalry

Can’t we all just get along? No. Not if we’re siblings. Sibling rivalry is a part of family life and as much as we’d like to make it go away, I believe the better tactic is to help our kids navigate through the rivalrous feelings and towards a long-lasting and healthy sibling relationship.

I remember the day my then 2-year-old pulled the pink socks out of the gift box to reveal she was having a baby sister. Part of me was hoping for a boy to round out the genders. But, I was thrilled my daughter would have a sister close in age. A sisterly bond is something truly special, and now my girls would have that opportunity.

Fast forward eight years and I’m a bit worried. Is this a bond they’re forming or a daily battle they’re fighting? One minute the girls (10 & 8) are playing nicely together, and the next they’re yelling at each other and in tears.

Here’s what sibling rivalry looks like with my girls:

As I’m complimenting my oldest daughter on how well she made her bed and the fact I knew she could do it, my other daughter says, “What about me?”

I have two daughters who are horseback riders. Needless to say, my eight-year-old racks up the Grand Champion ribbons and my oldest, who has wanted to ride horses since she was a little girl, isn’t raking in the ribbons like her little sister. We dread the horse shows and having to be excited for one sister and comfort the other.

I’m a mom, not a psychologist. Here are the few things I’ve learned when it comes to navigating sibling rivalry. My ultimate desire is for my girls to be best friends as adults. I’ll even settle for friends. 

What it boils down to is our kids competing with each other for our parental attention.

Here’s my top 7 strategies for handling my children’s sibling rivalry. 

#1 – Teach Them The Family Ground Rules (how we treat each other, love each other, have each other’s backs.)

#2 – Acknowledge and celebrate their differences. Don’t compare them to each other, especially openly. Why can’t you be more like your sister?

#3 – Speak their love language. Spend one-on-one time with each child.

#4- Help them to communicate with you how they’re feeling or what they need.

#5- Don’t get involved in their fights.

#6- Help them to celebrate one another’s successes. A huge milestone was when my 8-year-old was actually happy for my 10-year-old when she measured tall enough for the roller coaster. I made sure to say how proud I was of her and how she was genuinely happy for her sister.

#7- Seek professional help if you feel you need an outsiders input and advice.

What tips do you have for helping your children with their sibling rivalry?

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