Sibling Fights and Rivalry

Arguing, fighting, and competitiveness between siblings are part of normal family life. However, constant sibling fighting is a highly emotional issue. It can negatively impact relationships all the way through to adulthood. So, why can’t your children just get along?

Reasons for Sibling Fights and Rivalry

1.Your children may be bored or hungry

Lack of stimulation within the home leads to boredom. A bored child will seek stimulation anywhere, even if this means fighting with their sibling.

2. Your children are operating from their Primitive ( Reptilian) Brain

Children’s ( cortical) higher brain develops throughout childhood. Therefore, their reptilian primitive brain is in the driving seat. Hitting, fighting and not being able to express your feelings are a consequence of lower brain behaviour. They need help to “talk it out” and other solutions to develop self control. See my Facebook Post below, it can be fun.! Several ideas are derived from Gwen Dewar, Parenting Science .

3. Favoritism

It’s not easy to admit but some children are easier to like, feel close too. This creates resentment and yes children notice it. Injustices play our. In addition, children can project, enact unconscious parental dislike towards a child. This is common with children who may have a difficult temperament, have learning or developmental needs.

4. Your children are mirroring parental conflict

Some children fight with each other because they are imitating conflict, fights and arguments between their you and your partner. Some children will even fight between themselves in an attempt to bring you together and divert you from your marital problems.

How should you respond to Sibling fighting

1.Ignore minor issues.

Ignore minor issues. Ensure everyone knows your family’s rules and make clear boundaries. Besides, your children will feel more contained .

Implement family meetings where you discuss ideas on how you can work as a team or even call an emergency one if there has been a very trying day. My two-part>>Positive Discipline Workshop<< will be covering this in more detail. Here is an example for a rule:

  • Speak out feelings rather than hit out, find a grown up if you need help

2. Dont meet fighting with shouting and hitting.

Try not to scream, shout or hit when you get really cross. Take yourself away. Breathe and give yourself a moment, then return to manage the situation. If you lose it, say sorry and mean it. Above all when we say sorry, your children will know it’s safe to make mistakes and are more likely to own up to them.

3. Dont take Sides

Please do not take sides unless you have actually witnessed the act yourself. Unfortunately, some children are very good at play acting.  I’ve witnessed many a sibling wind up their brother or sister in family meetings. Some children can be quite sneaky about it, they may even realize that they can receive your loving attention by doing it. So encourage and praise ( some ideas below)

Attention Hyperactivity Disorder

4. Encourage them to work it out

If you do notice your child fighting over a toy. I like the policy of the child who has the item gets to keep it for a time, meanwhile, you help the sibling to wait. Whilst you are waiting for them, gently hold their hand if they want to grab. Try to be empathic, say how hard it must be for them, they will have the toy. On other occasions, we need to let them problem solve.  That means staying back and asking them what can they do to sort it out”

5. If your child is having “big Feelings” help her/him with it

Time out is often used for everything and although it does give us all a breathing space. However it does not help your child to change and during time out some children plot their revenge. Emotion coaching can help your child in moments of anger. Find out more here>>Emotion Coaching<<

6. Ensure safety

Children need to be protected from the aggressive actions of others and this includes their siblings too. I’ve worked with so many adults who were bullied by their siblings, Lack of parental protection has lasting damage. Of course children should have the freedom to work it out for themselves however if there is harm, then you need to take charge. If you are struggling to know what to do, seek help.

7.Give your children separate Special Time

Please do not treat each child the same. You want to consider them ” unique”. Don’t make the common mistake thinking family time is enough for everyone. You may not notice but children watch how they are treated in comparison to their siblings. They are very perceptive and attuned to favoritism. You may need to spend some positive time with each child separately. Try twice a week for 10 minutes. This really does work!

Thank you for reading this, I know that you are committed parent. I hope to see you at one of my workshops  or do contact me for a consultation. I hope this year is your greatest! With Love Catherine