Sibling Rivalry

In a house with more than one child, sibling rivalry is inevitable. This often leaves the mothers and fathers worried and anxious.

As parents , we often want our children to have a warm and close relationship with their siblings which they will carry forward into their adulthood. Parents often worry that these differences might affect their children in the way they become less empathetic. They might also develop a lower self esteem. Few of the reasons why siblings fight is to gain their parents attention or to cover their own mistakes.They can physically fight, put blames on the other, lie about their sibling or even create a false impression about them.


Some parents get angry and these conflicts get onto their nerves, they feel it is unnecessary and uncalled for. Here are some tips on managing the rivalry better.

Tips on how to manage sibling rivalry

1. Space your children: 

Having an age gap of three years between your siblings, helps the older one to feel more secure and independent.

2. Informing your child about a major change:

Planning a second child, is a big decision in any family. As mature parents, you must involve your child in this decision and despite his/her age explain to them about the addition into the family. You must invest the child into the process of how to welcome the baby.

3. Involving the child in the preparation:

Taking your child shopping for the new baby, allowing them to chose a few colours, toys etc can help establish a healthy bonding.

4. Distance yourself from leaning towards favouritism:

It is quite possible that as parents we seem to lean a bit towards the one sibling who is probably more easier to tackle or the one who reminds us of ourselves.

5. Parents must parent: 

It is vital that each child should get time from his/her mother and father. This reduces attention grabbing fights


6. Never compare children:

One of the things parents must avoid is comparing their children with one another. This creates a sense of favouritism and one child feels less loved in such situations. Using sentences like “I like him better as he behaves good” should never be used. These are factors that trigger split.


7. Never embarrass the older children:

Telling them that they are the “bigger one” and “they should behave” is not the right approach, instead telling them “yes,I understand why you feel this way”, “of course I know why you feel this way”.


8. Never discuss one child with the other:

Talking behind someone’s back is something we would not appreciate. The same courteous behaviour is applicable to children.


9. Do not Manipulate:

This makes children feel less valued and they will not trust you, or anyone to that matter.


10. Listen to your children:

Allow your children to communicate their feelings to you, this could be something as trivial as their pencil broke, to something bigger. If you listen to them with empathy they will open up to you and you together with them can find solutions to their problems.

About the Author:

Vineeta Thomas has extensive experience in the education section. She has worked in the spaces of community development and action research. Child development and the effect of parenting on the same is an area of interest. She writes basis her real life experience having interacted with students and parents cutting across age groups. Vineeta is based in Chennai and is a hands on Mamma