Sibling Rivalry: Why Do My Kids Fight So Much?


Regardless of the gender or even the age gap, fighting is a way for siblings to communicate, to sort out problems and to develop social strategies to help them in future situations.

Some siblings fight more than others and the reactions to these arguments will vary as well. This is often due to a child’s personality and temperament. Some children have trouble communicating their feelings and resort to physical aggression. Others well up with tears or hide away after arguing with a sibling.

There are many underlying reasons why your kids are constantly at each other’s throat. It is often due to one child feeling jealous or threatened by the other child. It could be an attention-seeking method or it could be because a child is hungry, bored or tired.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce the rivalry and help you achieve some sense of sibling harmony.

Don’t compare

Every child is an individual and often sibling rivalry comes from the fact that one child feels like they are not living up to the standards set by the other child. Reassure your children that there are no specific standards and that you are proud of each child for their individual talents and successes.

Help them cooperate rather than compete

Rather than racing each other, let the kids be on the same team in household chores and family activities. This promotes teamwork rather than competition.

Monitor their fighting patterns

Do most fights occur just before dinner? Or before bed? It could be due to the fact that they are tired, bored or hungry which can make them more aggressive, restless, moody and ready for a row.

My kids tend to get along wonderfully in the morning but their harmonious play time usually only last about an hour. Track when the fights occur and try to predict when it’s time to give the kids a break before the fights begin.

Set up alone time

While playing together is important, learning to play independently is equally as important and can also prevent fighting. When you think your children are close to the edge, split them up and suggest they play alone for a while.

Offer them personal attention

Give each child your undivided attention as much as you can, even if it’s just for a few moments a day. Read them a book. Ask them about their day. Do a puzzle or make a craft. This one on one time is so valuable, regardless of how old your child is. 

Play fair (not favourites)

Children don’t necessarily need equal attention, but they need to feel equally loved and equally as important. A baby, for example, is going to require a lot more of your attention than an older sibling. This only becomes a problem if the older sibling feels like he is not getting fair attention, or any at all. There is a big difference between being fair and being equal.

To reduce the rivalry between your children, it’s important that you reach a family dynamic that everyone is happy with. When a child feels like he is a valued member of the family, that his individuality is respected and that his place in the family is not being threatened, then this sense of anger, aggression and resentment will subside.

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