How to Sibling Rivalry Toddler Parenting

How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry In Toddlers

How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry In Toddlers

Every parent dreams that their children will be best friends from the moment that they meet but that is not the case all of this can only be achieved after ways of trying to understand and respect each other thoughts and opinions. Just because they are biologically programmed to like each other, it doesn’t mean that they will like each other at first sight. Sibling relationships take years to build as they learn to love each other unconditionally. It can be one relationship that can’t be broken. Sibling rivalry is one that can’t be avoided, in fact, it is one of those factors if handled correctly will ensure a strong relationship between the siblings for years to come. Sibling rivalry starts at the very young age, sibling rivalry in toddlers are more common than adults.

Reasons for sibling rivalry:

If one knows the reasons for any problem, one can easily find the solution for it. This is true for any situation. Most of the conflicts that arise in case of siblings are due to their childhood. Every child has a certain quality of competitiveness so that they can learn to adapt and tackle things. It is proven most of the qualities that an adult has is a direct result of the situations that they were put through as a child. Most parents might not participate very much in the sibling rivalry, as it may be misinterpreted as taking sides. They usually offer general advice and stop if they have any major argument that gets out of hand, but it is essential to keep an eye on the kid’s behavior, as there is a large possibility that he will treat others, the way he treats his sibling. As a parent, it is essential that you examine the various sibling rivalry causes which lead to this conflict and try out certain exercises that might stop this conflict from happening and, creates a good rapport between them. It is important that they have healthy conflicts so that they might understand each other better and develop as diligent human beings. It is very common that siblings fight as it is a normal part of growing up and essential in a certain relationship as it will aid as a strong foundation for the future relationship. Conflicts are what makes the kids be rational human beings. Here are certain factors that are the root cause of the sibling rivalry. The below points throw some light on what are the causes of sibling rivalry.

1. Jealousy:

As children, either one of the siblings might get jealous for the attention that the other one receives. It is common for siblings for to feel that way as parents might pay more attention to the younger sibling and its needs until they grow up, this can spark jealousy in the older sibling. The older ones might feel left out and at times unattended. It is important to notice that the younger ones might be cuter and you might want to pamper them, but during the first year, they might not know that they are being pampered. It is during the first year you need to pay more attention to the elder one, to show nothing has changed. This would be quite useful if the age difference is quite low. I felt un-attended this can grow into sibling jealousy in adults.

2. Attention:

As children, they should receive the equal amounts of attention from both parents. One can’t dictate how much attention that they get from the third people, but kids might expect a certain amount of attention from their parents, the busier the parents are, the less attention that the kids receive. In such a case parents might always be able to distribute the attention equally between the siblings. In such a case it is easy for a child to misinterpret it as the fault of the sibling and take it out on them. In such a case the kids might act out as they are being ignored. IF one sibling needs any special attention sure to any condition that they might have, like disability, that sibling might require special needs. In that case, in the early years of a child might act out, but as they grow up they tend to understand.

3. Age difference:

No matter how much or little the age difference there is bound to be some conflicts. If the age difference is low and when they are younger, they are more or less in the same mental understanding capacity and might disagree and that might end in conflicts. If there is a large age difference between them, this might result in both of them being from a different generation and their growing up can be influenced by different factors, this factors might also influence the parenting style that is used.

More age difference can result in the sibling have different viewpoints, that might also cause conflict between the two. The elder one might be more rational to agree to the viewpoints of the younger, it might be difficult to find common grounds to relate to.

4. Competition:

As a human being, we all have different advantages and strong grounds. We might be good in certain aspects and excel in those areas. If two siblings are equally talented in the same area, that might cause some competition between the siblings, as they might compete to show who is better than whom. It might be things like getting a higher grade than the other sibling that can sour things between them. As a parent, one can’t and shouldn’t take sides, but one has to encourage a child’s victory and offer comfort at one’s failure. These two might be in often conflicts with one another.

5. Sharing is caring:

Parents might not want to spoil their kids; hence they might want to teach them a thing or two about sharing. When parents try to incorporate this, at first it might not go well. As kids tend to be very possessive of the things that they own, and they might not share it with others. This can cause a lot of harsh question, ‘ why must I share it with him/her?’ or ‘ Its mine’. But teaching kids about sharing is important as only in these moments when they share, they would also share the happiness that the particular item brings to them.

6. The breaking of trust:

One of the prominent examples of sibling rivalry is the breaking of trust. Even when there is a strong bond between the two, but fallouts are bound to happen they can be due to the trust between the siblings. This bound to happen during the adolescent age as they have terrible fights and have fallout, which might extend to weeks, but surely this will be outgrown with the help of time. But if a sibling trust another sibling with a secret and they use it against them, or tattle on them to their parents this might cause issues. In such cases, the other sibling might view it as their trust is broken, but the sibling might have also done it to protect the other one. Yet again this might be misinterpreted commonly.

7. Expression:

If they are toddlers most of the problem comes from a place where they can express themselves, in those days the main issues are due to miscommunication and not being able to express what they feel.

How to handle sibling rivalry:

Even if all of the three factors are key in causing rivalry between the siblings, most of them can be solved with a help of some passive measures that are discussed below. There are two types of methods one can use in different situations, one is certain behaviors that parents must do before the argument beings and another set of ideas to handle them after the fight.

First, let’s look at the behaviors of parents that will help in creating harmony not only between the kids but also aid there a personal relationship between the kids. This will show one how to deal with sibling fighting.

1. Never compare:

There is already enough comparison and competition in the world for the kids, one should not bring this inside the household. Never compare one kid with another, never say ‘why can’t you be more like him?’ as this may be the root cause for everything. You can advise your child on being the better version of themselves. not to be more like some other person. you must let the children create their only individual sense of thoughts and viewpoints. Never label your kid. Don’t refer to you kid, even for identification as the ‘tall one’ or ‘intelligent one’ or ‘ the beautiful one’. Lose the labels call them, by their name or use something that is unique to them, and that doesn’t come off as comparison ground for others. try to enjoy and encourage their individual talents and dreams.

2. Never play favorites:

You might have favorites in your kids as they might have nature that you find likable, but one should never expect them to the kid. As this might be seen as a ground for fighting between them, this might also create inferiority complex between the kids, and that is not healthy for the long run.

The following steps must be used during the conflicts.

3. Avoid stepping in:

Parents are usually advised not to step in when the argument or conflict is going on, as this might give them a chance to reason with one another and find common ground that they agree on. Never interrupt an argument unless you feel like its unhealthy. Do interrupt the argument, if that child is in physical danger or conditions similar to that. Solving sibling rivalry might though make sure to remember the following points.

4. Never take sides;

One can offer comfort to siblings, but they can’t take sides, under any circumstances. Even if one sibling is right if you die with them. This might reflect badly on the other sibling and cause a lot of pain. This not only affects their relationship but yours as well.

5. Separate and cool off:

Most conflicts can be stopped if both parties are allowed time to think separately and give them time to cool off. As a parent, if things get out of hand it is your duty to separate them and give them time to cool off and think about their actions and the consequences that it has caused. Put them in the separate room and if wanted listen to what they have to say without taking sides and this time and space away from each other will teach their kids, retrospect.

6. Timeline of the conflicts:

Note and examine on where the conflicts occur, on which areas they find themselves disagreeing the most. At what time does this fight or conflicts occur, is it before or after dinner, is it after or before school hours, who picks the fight first, who is more reasonable, analyze all areas and then talk to them about it without taking sides.

What To Do

There are certain things that can be done in advance and it will also make you, as a parent to handle the conflicts better and for the children to express their differences better. In the long run, they might even learn to celebrate their differences. Though the effects of sibling rivalry are mostly temporary they can be reduced by the following steps.

  1. Family meetings:

Hold regular family meetings, so that this might give them a chance to talk out their differences and clear the air. One member might have grievances that can cause problems if bottled up might lead to breakouts that they didn’t predict. They can also work as a family unit and solve these problems. This might also increase the family bonding.

  1. Give separate attention:

Sometimes, it might be easy for them to feel left out, and as a parent tiring to find that work-life balance might also be difficult, hence it is advisable that one must spend quality time with your kid as much as possible and you must ensure that you give the equal amount of attention. One has to spend quality time with the family to ensure that they feel connected to everyone in that family. During this quality time make sure that they are well attended to and emphasize the strengths of the children and talk about how much they mean to you an to the family. Take them on trips and other places where the kids can find activities that they can do together that creates a bond between them.

  1. Ground rules:

Even though the kids must be allowed to argue and settle things between them, set some ground rules that they must follow. the following rules will be a perfect example of what they are.

  1. Never use a tone or raise voice against your sibling.
  2. Never hit or throw things at them.
  3. Name calling should not be tolerated.
  4. Each one has to listen to other and try to reason with one other.

This will teach them to put their relationship ahead of their problems and conflicts.

  1. Set an example:

children are the best lead by examples, which must be incorporated by the parents. A parent must be a role model. So never argue or yell in front of your children, and remember when a child watches you exhibit this behavior, it might think that it is acceptable and get the wrong impression. You must practice what you preach.

  1. Trying to make friends before birth:

One of the ways that you can reduce rivalry between the older and younger sibling is that making the older one comfortable with the younger even before it is born. Allow your first child to feel the kick of the baby in your womb, and tell him about the birth of the first child and how happy you felt. This might also give him a chance in seeing his own birth cycle. You can prepare your child for the birth of his younger sibling. Spend much quality time with your eldest as much as possible as it means so much to your eldest. This lays the foundation for the sibling relationship.

  1. Importance of sibling:

Teach how siblings are important to one another, how they can have each other back at all times and how they can be best friends and show unconditional love for one another. They can also protect each other at times, that are necessary and how they will and should always defend each other.


If you follow the above strategy one can ensure that there will be some peace and harmony in the family. Family activities always bring out fun times and beautiful memories. This sibling rivalry in toddlers is temporary this only aids for a stronger relationship. This article throws some light on sibling fighting solutions and its factors.

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About the author

Lauren Brown

I am Lauren Brown, mom of 2 beautiful and smart kids. Parenting is called to be simple for mom or dad, but it is not as simple it looks. With my own experience and being a parenting counsellor, I help you to be the best Mom & Dad in your kid's world.

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