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Sibling Rivalry

We have all heard the expression “they fight like brother and sister”. Whether your toddlertoddler’ss siblings are older or younger some rivalry is to be expected and is actually an important life skill for them to learn. It can teach your children how to sort out problems and work through conflict and helps them to learn the importance of respecting others and their belongings.

Rivalry between your children depends on each childtoddler’ss temperament, personality and age. Not wanting to share toys is a likely cause of a fight for toddlers, if they dontoddler’st yet have the ability to tell their siblings what they are feeling it is typical that they will express themselves through physical actions such as pushing. Often conflict between toddlers will decrease as they learn language and social skills as they get older.

Sibling rivalry is usually more common between children who are the same gender and closer in age and while it is unavoidable there are some strategies you can use to help manage the conflict:

  • Try to ignore as much bickering as you can. Sometimes not giving the situation attention will cause it to resolve faster
  • Don’t always try to stop the fighting and resolve the issue for your children. They need to learn how to solve situations for themselves
  • If a conflict is escalating, firmly ask your children to stop the behaviour. It is important to then provide a short simple explanation to why it is unacceptable
  • Remove the toy or game that has caused the conflict and move onto another activity. You could try something creative to help your children express their feelings such as painting, drawing and play dough
  • Make sure you dontoddler’st take sides or become part of the argument
  • Dontoddler’st spend hours trying to find out who is guilty of starting the fight
  • Intervene if a child is deliberately harmed physically or victimised and handle the situation firmly.

Here are some tips on how to keep the peace between siblings before conflict arises:

  • Reinforce good behaviour by acknowledging the times when your children are being nice to each other
  • Rivalry between your children can be the result of competing for love and attention from their parents. The best way to diffuse this is to show love and appreciation for each child equally
  • Do not compare siblings to each other in a positive or negative way; this is especially important for twins
  • Be a good role model, your children learn from your behaviour. Do your best to stay calm and react to situations in a way that is suitable.

No matter how fairly you treat your children you cantoddler’st always eliminate all rivalry between them, ittoddler’ss a normal part of their development. However, if sibling rivalry becomes violent with one child harming another on a regular basis, seek help from a healthcare professional urgently.

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