Sibling Rivalry? Some Tips to Prevent You From Pulling Your Hair Out!

What Is Worse than Fighting Siblings? Fighting Siblings While You are Trying To Work Or Make Dinner.

Let’s teach our children how to resolve conflict, since they will have to learn conflict resolution as teens and adults in all sorts of relationships where listening and compromise are necessary. Why not have a family meeting where they are told that you are providing them an opportunity to win points towards a reward, for one of the most important tasks, learning to get along. You can let them know that if they wind up in a fight, before coming to you, they should try 3 things. For example, if one is teasing or they are arguing over something,have them try 3 of the following:

  1. One of them suggests to the other that they please stop

  2. One of them suggests to the other they stop and laugh and do something silly

  3. One of them suggests to the other that they separate for awhile

d) One of them suggests that they change the subject completely

If they are successful in resolving the issue themselves, they can come to you later and explain. If they cannot resolve it themselves,which they likely won’t be able to for a while, here is what you can do for them and model. This isn’t a bad idea for conflict in any relationship, with friends, and especially a partner or spouse.

Parent-I'm going to listen carefully to each of you without interruption. First Lisa and then Gina.

Gina, can you tell me what happened? After, the parent repeats what happened and asks how the child felt. You validate for them three times. I hear you’re angry and frustrated. I can certainly understand how you would feel that way. I see what you mean. You have every right to those feelings.

Now it is the other childs turn for the same. Ask if either of them understands the other's perspective and can say it. Most likely, they won’t be able to do that yet although if your kids are older or teens, they might be able to. Last, ask if you can all brainstorm ideas to resolve the conflict. Write them down and you can add yours and vote on them or have them write a number next to each in the order of their preference. THey may have to compromise, one gets their way this time and the other gets their way the next time. Praise their efforts and calm participation,

While this seems long and cumbersome, it can really be worth it in the long run if they can learn to do this on their own, and they are also getting valuable time with you. Remember, siblings fighting over something generally might be connected to their wish to be your only child and not have to share you.



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Sheri Perlman

OT,  LCSW

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