Sibling Rivalry: Navigating The Struggle Between Siblings

Any parent to more than one child understands the very real struggle that ensues between your children from the moment that new baby comes home. It’s a love so pure that nothing can ever come close. And a loathing so extreme that nothing can ever compare.

It’s the beauty of having or raising siblings.

There are just over 2 years between our daughters and I can honestly say that seeing them love on each other is one of my favourite things in life. The way they look for each other when one isn’t there. Their secret jokes. Their care and consideration for the other. On the flip side, I’ve also never witnessed the type of love that concurrently allows for the biggest scraps I’ve ever seen. Like world war 3 type situations. One of them can be paying away happily and then all of a sudden the other swoops in to wreck the game. For no reason other than to get a rise out of the other sister. Or to try to divert the attention to them. It’s a completely natural part of growing up, but it can be incredibly frustrating when you feel like you’ve been refereeing them all day and breaking up fights.

They can go from deep and true love to pure rage in seconds. A skill I think is unique to siblings.

When I say I’ve never witnessed this before, I guess that isn’t completely true. I am the youngest of 4 siblings and while we are all extremely close now, growing up was a different story. I can still recall that same feeling and the struggle between ‘hating’ my siblings but also looking up to them and wanting to be around them. You wouldn't let anyone else say a bad word about them, but if they even breathed in the wrong way it would be the most annoying thing in the world. The brother slightly older than me, in particular just aggravated me. To be fair I probably was the most annoying and entitled baby sister the world has ever seen. And despite the angst of growing up as the lowest in the pecking order of our family, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. And that same brother who annoyed the heck out of me with his breathing is now one of my favourite people and an amazing human being.

The greatest gift I was ever given was my two brothers and sister.

Watching our two girls in this eternal struggle of siblings, has been bringing me on a trip down memory lane. And it gives me hope knowing that as they figure life out together, they will hopefully end up as each other's favourite people.

Tips for handling sibling rivalry:

  1. Create a calm environment where you can intervene before things get too heated. Allow them to try to work something out, and step in as soon as it starts to escalate.

  2. Make sure each child gets one on one attention and that you aren’t favouring one child over another. Kids pick up on everything and resentment will build if one child is getting all of your attention.

  3. Plan activities for the whole family which allow your kids to relax and forget about everything except enjoying time with their parent(s).

  4. Minimising the disruption of a fight and helping them to find a solution will teach them valuable lessons as they grow. Conflict resolution is a life skill!

**Piece originally published in Family Friendly HQ.