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Stop Sibling Spats

5 Smart Ways to Keep the Peace at Home

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Siblings compete—for toys, games, rights, privileges, recognition, not to mention your undivided attention. And while there’s no magic bullet to completely eliminate minor skirmishes or major battles, you may be able to keep the peace (at least some of the time) with these anti-scuffle tips.
5 Smart Ways to Reduce At-Home Clashes

1. Make sure each child knows he’s valued.

This may sound obvious, but when there's a new baby in mommy’s lap, or a more accomplished older sib commanding attention, it’s almost a given that other kids will feel overlooked or overshadowed.

To diffuse rivalry: Encourage a brand new older brother to snuggle next to you first, and then you can proceed to feed the baby. And don’t play favorites: Do not expect older kids to recognize the needs of a new arrival, and later on, don’t single out the accomplishments of one exceptional older child as the gold standard others must live up to.

2. Outline privileges clearly so little ones will understand them.

Kids will find it fairer, and more tolerable, if you extend benefits in a uniform manner. A plainly stated rule helps reduce competition. If staying up until 8 p.m. is one of the privileges that come with being a cooperative 6-year-old in your family, formalize the policy, and make sure everyone is aware of it.

3. Don’t limit your kids’ options.

Assigning each child with a “best at” label may trigger unhealthy competition—or worse, discourage “not best at” youngsters from testing their own untapped talents.

A smarter move: Foster a can-do attitude in everyone. Avoid labeling children in ways that limit exploration. Provide encouragement, activities, opportunities, support, and resources for all family members.

4. Model team spirit.

Encourage sibs to cheer for each other on and off the field, applaud each other's successes, and boost spirits after disappointments. Help them see the accomplishments of one do not, in any way, diminish the value, essence, interests, and skills of any other family member.

5. Support cooperative projects.

Create situations where can sibs collaborate to achieve a collective goal. Plant a family garden. As a group, think up every day and special occasion menus, and shop for ingredients together.

Plan family trips to a local farm, zoo, or aquarium where everyone can learn something new and later share it with the rest of the family. Encourage kids to listen to one another, appreciate others’ interests, and show respect for everyone’s contributions.

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