Sibling Rivalry and Conflict

In all families, brothers and sisters fight with each other from time to time:

  • Call each other names
  • Tease one another
  • Hit each other sometimes

While some verbal fighting is no big deal, when you hurt each other’s feelings and/or get into physical fights you might need help to make things better. You both deserve to be treated with respect.

Why Do Siblings Fight?

If you find yourself fighting with your brother or sister a lot you might want to think about why the fighting starts in the first place:

  • They get more attention then you do
  • Your parents compare you to your brother or sister (you may hear things like “You should know better because you are older” or “Why can’t you be good in school like your brother?” )
  • Your brother or sister doesn’t respect your privacy (e.g. they snoop in your stuff, use your things, read your diary or listen to your conversations)
  • They won’t share the t.v./computer/phone
  • They tease or provoke you

Sometimes other things are happening in your life that may be upsetting or difficult. You may find that you fight more often with your brother or sister when:

  • You are having problems with friends, school or your parents. Are you suffering from family abuse?
  • Your family is going through a big change (e.g. a move, a death, the loss of a pet, a divorce, a remarriage, a birth)

Or maybe you just don’t get along. You may be too much alike or just too different to understand and support one another. It is OK to be angry at, jealous of or tired of your brother or sister but it’s not ok to hit them or hurt their feelings.

For Parents: How To Get Your Kids to Stop Fighting

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How To Be Siblings Without Rivalry

Here are just a few ideas for improving your relationship:

  • If they are teasing or bugging you, try your best to ignore their annoying behaviour before it turns into a full-blown fight.
  • Walk away if you can!
  • When you feel especially frustrated, try to find things to do away from your home (e.g. go to a friend’s house, the library or for a walk).
  • If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, talk about the problem with your brother or sister.
  • Talk to your parents about the fighting. Describe how it makes you feel and tell them why you think it is happening.
  • Ask for their support. Maybe together you can come up with ideas about how to have a more peaceful home.
  • Try sharing your feelings with a close friend. Sometimes friends can come up with some pretty good ideas, especially if they have brothers or sisters too.
  • Realize that this may just be a difficult stage you are going through with your brother or sister. Things often get better with time.

Fighting with brothers and sisters is a normal part of life but if it becomes dangerous or too upsetting you need to get some help. Learn how art can be great therapy. If you have tried everything and nothing seems to be helping call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.