Just get along!

At all ages, sibling rivalry is alive and well. Here are tips to managing the battles that occur with children of all ages.

Goats fighting

“Don’t make me pull this car over!” Siblings will often bicker, fight and disagree, but wait a few minutes and they will be best friends and don’t remember why they were fighting. Or if they are like my boys, they will say, “We are just having a conversation,” yet it sounds like bickering to me and it is stressful to the outside listener! Families heading out for a summer vacation or even staying at home know all too well sibling “conversations” are inevitable. Fighting can be frustrating for everyone involved. Kids can have conflict for many reasons including jealousy, different temperaments and even the developmental needs of the child. For example, a child that is in elementary school has a strong sense of fairness and will be upset if they are treated differently.

Michigan State University Extension offers the following suggestions when sibling rivalry erupts in your family:

  • Kangaroos fighting
    Try not to get involved unless the argument becomes physical. Effective negotiating and problem solving are skills they will need for life. When we constantly rescue, they will learn to expect that from us and the opportunity to learn how to resolve a conflict is missed. In addition, kids that are always rescued may feel they can get away with more.
  • If necessary, resolve conflicts with your child.
  • Discuss with your kids that equal and fair is not always possible. Someone may sometimes get more. That is true in a family scenario as well as real life.
  • Sometimes it can be as simple as offering, or setting up, space for time apart. We don’t always get along with friends and coworkers, so it is unrealistic to think siblings will be non-confrontational.

According to a Mayo Clinic article, “Sibling rivalry: Helping your children get along,” parents can also respect each child’s unique needs, avoid comparisons, set ground rules and stick to them, anticipate problems, listen, encourage good behavior and show your love.

The silver lining is when children disagree, they are showing healthy signs that they are able to express their needs and wants. Sibling rivalry is normal. All children will disagree. Treating them as individuals is key to helping the family through those stressful times.


Michigan State University Michigan State University Close Menu button Menu and Search button Open Close