Sibling Rivalry

I only had one child so I never had to deal with sibling rivalry. My daughter had all of my attention. My daughter has two children, a boy and a girl. They are exactly one year and two days apart. Some days you just have to laugh because they are so ridiculous in their jealousy.sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry often starts before the second child is even born. It continues as they grow and they begin to fight over everything from toys to attention. It is normal for brothers and sisters to fight, or sisters if the case may be. They will go back and forth between loving and hating each other.

We are going through a new phase of jealousy in our house. Cornell is two and has started all those great developmental leaps. He’s forming words more clearly and learning to do things on his own. So, of course, when he does we tend to give him lots of praise for doing good. Now we did the same for Nyla but of course she doesn’t remember that. She just sees her brother getting all the attention and she wants it.

Nyla has all of a sudden become this extremely sensitive little girl who will cry if you look at her sideways. Cornell is eating it up. It’s frustrating for me and my daughter because we get tired of listening to the crying and fighting all the time.

Besides the jealousy, there are other reasons a brother and sister might fight a lot. Evolving needs for example. Toddlers are naturally protective of their toys and belongings. They are learning to assert their will and will do it every chance they get. Role models play a part as well. Children will watch and learn how parents resolve disputes.

What do you do when the sibling rivalry starts?


sis bury brother in sandWhenever possible, try to stay out of it. The only time you want to step in is if there is a threat of physical harm. If you always step in then your kids are never going to learn how to solve their own problems and will look to you

to fix everything. If you do have to step in then try and help them resolve the problem not solve it for them.


A few things you can do:

  • Separate the children until they calm down
  • Don’t place blame – it takes two to fight
  • Help them see a win-win situation

This last one reminds me of a cute story. Nyla has been doing this for about six months or so. We don’t know where she got it from but it just blew us away that she knew to do this. Cornell always wanted to have her toys. I think she tried fighting him at first but he’s a stocky and solid boy whereas Nyla is thin as a rail. Don’t get me wrong, she can hold her own when she gets mad.

One day she finally got this bright idea. Cornell was playing with one of her toys and she wanted it. She went to the toy box, picked out another toy, took it to her brother and got him to trade her toys. What two year old thinks to barter?

There are some things you can do to help prevent fights to begin with.

  • Set some ground rules – what you will and will not accept
  • Let them know everything is not fair and equal – sometimes one child will need more than the other
  • Make one-on-one time with each child doing something that interests them
  • Always tell them you love them – make them feel safe, loved and important
  • Have family fun together – even if it’s just throwing a stuffed animal at each other (guilty!)
  • Recognize when they need time apart and try to arrange separate play dates

Oh, and please oh please tell your children no now and then. It is so good for them to hear.

Now that we have recognized the problem at home, we try to give Nyla a little attention too

sibling_rivalry_by_jollyrogers5-d4g65njwhen we praise Cornell. It is difficult sometimes, especially when they both want to be held at the same time by the same person. We manage the best we can and that is all any parent can do.





12 thoughts on “Sibling Rivalry

  1. Angela,
    This article took on a trip down memory lane. I still remember the arguments I used to have with my sister and how it usually took a toll on my parents` patience. I only have one daughter and, thank God , do not deal with sibling rivalry at home. However, some of my friends MUST read your article. They will definitely find lots of useful tips. Great job!

    1. Hi Hilda,
      Watching my grand kids fight reminds me of my childhood too. I used to fight so bad with my brother! I only had one child as well. Sometimes it felt so much easier. Please do share!

  2. I believe not only with brother and sister but with other relations as well like in my case cousins

    1. Hi David,
      Excellent point! I have a brother and a sister but we also grew up around a lot of cousins. There were the same arguments and fights I had with my own siblings. The only difference was that I didn’t have to go home with my cousins!

  3. I had a twin sister for 4 years before we finally had a younger sister. I don’t remember fighting a lot with my sister or younger sisters as much as my younger sister and youngest (6 years after me) fought. Sometimes, I would try to step between and keep them from fighting and most often would hear, “Norman, this is not your fight!” And I would yell back, “But you are my sisters and there is a better solution than fighting.”

    Even back then, I realized that talking things out was a far better solution than arguing till both got tired of talking.

    1. Hi Norman,
      Great story! Thank you for sharing. Yes, it is always better to talk things out. You were a wise young man.

  4. Haha ooooh good old sibling rivalry. Your tips on dealing with it are fantastic, Its definately important for kids to know that its not always going to be fair and equal. Thats just a fact of life. I agree spending time with them one on one and also having family tme is important. Fun family time sets the ground work for happier relationships as they grown older. Nice post!

    1. Hi Christine,
      Thanks for taking time to read my story. I agree that personal time is so important. You have to let your kids know that you love them equally.

  5. Hi Angela,
    This is terribly recognizable. When I think back to the years when my kids were younger, nowadays I can not imagine they fought so much. They are almost all adults now, and the best mates ever. Hopefully that fact will be a little bit of encouragement for you and your daughter:)

    1. Hi Loes,
      Yes, most kids (siblings) do fight. They usually grow out of it as well. We definitely look forward to the days when our two are doing a little less of the fighting. lol

  6. Great read Angela,

    A little off topic, – I’m lucky to say that I didn’t have any issues with the kids..

    BUT the dogs – that’s a totally different story!

    1. Hi Tony,
      Thanks Tony. Hey, our dogs are like our children! They can be jealous and act out just as much, if not more, than our kids!

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