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A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Sibling Rivalry

By HERWriter Blogger
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parental guide for surviving sibling rivalry iStockphoto/Thinkstock

When there are two or more children in one family, there will almost always be some sort of sibling rivalry.  

The number of kids in the family, how close they are in age,  and if they are the same sex are all factors which will influence just how much of this rite of passage parents have to deal with during the childhood years.  

The majority of siblings will swing widely back in forth between being the best of friends and sworn enemies, but there are ways to lessen the pendulum swings and create more peace in the family.

The first step is to understand what is causing the rivalry in the first place.  It may be simple jealousy or competiveness that starts the arguments, but there may also be other issues at play.  

Individual personalities and temperaments, evolving needs at various developmental stages, stress in the family, and their role models (their parents) all factor into the amount and severity of the fighting.  

If there is a sick, injured, or special needs child in the family, this may also cause an imbalance or disparity on many levels and can lead to arguments and more rivalry.

When fighting between siblings does occur, the best advice for parents is to not get involved.  As much as Mom or Dad want to step in and help solve the problem, it is typically better for the children to figure it out for themselves.  

The exception to this rule is if there’s a danger of physical harm.  

By not stepping in, kids can stop waiting for a parent to rescue them and they can learn to work out the problem on their own.  Also, when parents do step in, they can look like they are taking sides or favoring one child over another.

If the children cannot come to a happy conclusion on their own, it is fair for parents to coach them through the situation.  The key is resolving the issue with the children, not for them.  

Physically separating kids until they are calm will help everyone think through the problem more clearly. Some time to themselves might be needed before rehashing everything to find a solution.  

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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