Sibling Rivalry :: Parenting Do’s and Don’ts


Sibling Beef

If you give a child a cookie, odds are her sister will want the same exact cookie with the same amount of chocolate chips and not an edge short. This was my experience all summer with ages 3 and 5 being home. Last year, they were both pretty civil to each other but this year some crazy sibling rivalry has hedged into the home full force! I’ve heard the tall tales of constant sibling bickering, but me and my brother were almost a decade apart so I didn’t know how crazy it could be. Come to think of it, crazy is probably an understatement. I mean who on earth argues about which color cup they’re going to get, who gets to hug and kiss mommy first, who gets the green marker, what movie are we going to watch, why does she get a lollipop and any other insane thing to argue about.

When my children argue, it’s exhausting, annoying, overwhelming, stressful and honestly if it came down to one thing – it breaks my heart. I know they love each other immensely and while I can’t predict the next big argument, I’m trying to be more aware of the do’s and don’ts of parenting these explosive moments.

The Do’s & Don’ts

I reached out to my amazing mom friends to see how they deal and here’s what they had to say:
The Woods


“Maybe the worst thing you can do is just react out of anger or frustration (which is hard) but then you are just modeling the behavior that you don’t want to see.”


“We emphasize how special the gift of family is and how we can care for one another. I like to teach the “bigs” how to treat the littles with love and patience. And I talk about “treat others as you’d like to be treated” and ask questions like “how would you like it if someone did that to you?” We try to lead them down a path where they can think and resolve conflict on their own.”

The Garcias


“It takes all I have in me not to yell at them during arguments. I’ve noticed when I yell over them it gets their attention for a minute, but then, they are back to fighting again. I also try not to yell because when Silas does something he’s not supposed to do Liv thinks it’s okay to yell at him too. I have to set an example.”


“I have to talk them through arguments and use words like “be nice,” and “take care”. I explain to Liv how she’s my helper and the big sister of the house so it’s important to show the littles how. She’s such a little momma she gets so proud of herself.”

The Piñas


“Don’t scream and think before you respond. I’ve said things like “You see, if you keep being mean they won’t want to play with you.” And those responses are because I’m annoyed.”


“During sibling arguments, I ask simple questions to help them understand what they did and how it affected their sibling: “Do you think that was right? Would you like for someone to hurt your brother/sister the way you just did? I then remind them that the little brother looks up to the big sister. This usually ends in a hug and kiss.”

The Simpsons


“I try not to take sides. Trying to yell over and at them for fighting never works. They are already at the peak of their arguing. My yelling only makes them look at me and start to cry from mommy and daddy yelling.”


“I always tell each one what the other is doing. I never want one to feel alone or ganged up on. Which can be very exhausting as a parent saying, “both of you stop!” “I know sissy was being mean. She shouldn’t do that, but you shouldn’t do this either.”

Next time the sibling beef stirs up, it’s important to remember their arguments are a valuable opportunity to help them grow. I’d love to hear some of your wisdom – share below!


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