kids-fighting clip art

This morning I woke up to screaming and crying. I thought World War III was underway but alas it just turned out to be another squabble between our children in whatever combination this bout of sibling rivalry manifested itself today.

We have three little ones so it can be two on one, all three. or just between two.

This morning it was just one on one fighting/

Ahhh the joys of sibling rivalry.

Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, competition, and fighting between brothers and sisters.  It often starts up right after the birth of the second child and continues through childhood. It can be extremely stressful and frustrating for parents.

Fortunately, there are lots of things parents can do to help their kids get along better and work through conflicts in positive ways.

Furthermore, the more things kids do to work things out helps them develop important skills like cooperation and being able to see another’s point of view.


There are many factors that contribute to sibling rivalry:

  • Each child is trying to define who they are as one. As they discover who they are, they try to find their own talents, activities, and interests.  They want to show that they are separate from their siblings.
  • Children can feel left out of the energy you have for attention, discipline, and responsiveness.
  • Children may feel their relationship with their parents is threatened by the arrival of a new baby.
  • Your children’s developmental stages will affect how mature they are and how well they can share your attention and get along with one another.
  • Children who are hungry, bored or tired are more likely to become frustrated and start fights.
  • Children may not know positive ways to get attention for a sibling or how to start playful activities, so they pick fights instead.
  • Family dynamics play a role. For example, one child may remind a parent of a relative who was particularly difficult, and this may subconsciously influence how the parent treats that child.
  • Children often fight more in families where parents think aggression and fighting between siblings is normal and an acceptable way to resolve conflicts.
  • Not having time to share regular, enjoyable family time together (like family meals) can increase the chances of children engaging in conflict.
  • Stress in the parents’ lives can decrease the amount of time and attention parents can give the children and increase sibling rivalry.
  • Stress in your children’s lives can shorten their fuses, and decrease their ability to tolerate frustration, leading to more conflict.
  • How parents treat their kids and react to conflict can make a big difference in how well siblings get along.


  • Don’t play favorites.
  • Don’t compare them.
  • Let each child be who they are.
  • Enjoy each of your children’s individual talents and successes.
  • Set your kids up to cooperate rather than compete.  For example, have them race the clock to pick up toys, instead of racing each other.
  • Pay attention to the time of day or other patterns in when conflicts usually occur. Are conflicts more likely right before naps or bedtime or maybe when children are hungry before meals?   Perhaps a change in the routine, an earlier meal or snack, or a well-planned quiet activity when the kids are at loose ends could help avert your kids’ conflicts.
  • Work on teaching them to get attention from one another in a positive way like teaching them to ask their sibling to play or help them bring out their belongings to share.Click To Tweet
  • Being fair is very important, but it is not the same as being equal. Older and younger children may have different privileges due to their age, but if children understand that this inequality is because one child is older or has more responsibilities, they will see this as fair.  Even if you did try to treat your children equally, there will still be times when they feel as if they’re not getting a fair share of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from you. Expect this and be prepared to explain the decisions you have made. Reassure your kids that you do your best to meet each of their unique needs.
  • Plan family activities that are fun for everyone.  If your kids have good experiences together, it acts as a buffer when they come into conflict.  It’s easier to work it out with someone you share warm memories with.
  • Make sure each child has enough time and space of their own.  Kids need chances to do their own thing, play with their own friends without their sibling, and to have their space and property protected.

In our household, we have game night which is where we all get to have a common experience and make strong memories together. This I truly believe helps the children to be quicker to settle their disputes with one another. I honestly believe it has something to do with the bonds they form during together times spent as a family.

I have one book that I read that I just love. It’s by the same authors as How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, another awesome book in the world of raising children and another favorite.

What special tricks do you employ in your household to lessen the conflict of sibling rivalry? I would love to know!

Kelli M. Riebesehl Mommy Blogger
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child’s parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child’s pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.

Kelli M. Riebesehl | Mommy Blogger