3 Reminders on How to Handle Sibling Rivalry

Avoid rescuing – We sometimes mistake conflict as being something “bad” and something that we should try to avoid. We must remember that not all conflict is bad and instead think of it as an opportunity for growth. It is extremely powerful to not step in and allow your children to resolve conflicts on their own so they learn these necessary social skills of empathizing with another person and compromising in order to get their needs met.


Be aware of what is going on for you internally – Maybe you more closely identify with your child that is a bit shy. You may remember getting picked on when you were younger for being shy. When you see that your child that is more shy getting picked on by your child that is more extroverted you become hypersensitive in your reaction because it hits close to your heart. This is a natural and understandable reaction. However, I am challenging you to first reflect on your thoughts before reacting in this situation. Think what is going on for me internally? Am I triggered to have a certain response based off of my past experiences? Why do I feel an urge to step in more now than in other situations when my children are fighting? Being aware of your own “stuff” is an important part of parenting because it allows the child to have their own life experiences and encourages independence.


Take care of yourself – Mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, exercising, various hobbies, and disengaging when unhealthy interactions are occurring all protect parents from burn out or reacting in a negative way toward your children when they are fighting. If you take care of yourself then you are more likely to be able to respond to sibling conflict in a healthy manner because you will feel calm yourself. Try out these techniques when your children are not fighting and see what makes you feel the most relaxed and then try using the technique again when you are feeling stressed, even if it is just for a few minutes. This small amount of time can make a big difference when it comes to your reaction to sibling conflict in your home.

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