Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

6 Ways to Manage Conflicts

Here are six ways to handle conflict between your children:

1. Allow your older child to help care for the younger one. Helping to feed a baby or change a diaper can strengthen the relationship between siblings. Encourage your child to be proud to be a big brother or big sister.

2. Don't compare your children in front of them. Avoid pointing out your children's differences in front of them. Your child might interpret comparison as criticism and may think that he's not as good or as loved as his sibling.

3. Stay out of your children's arguments. You may have to step in and settle a spat between toddlers or preschoolers, but older children will probably settle an argument themselves if left alone. If your children try to involve you, explain that they're both responsible for creating the problem and for ending it. Don't take sides.

4. Let your children know that violence is unacceptable. Make sure your children are made aware that you will not stand for any violence between them. Praise your children when they solve their arguments peacefully.

5. Don't punish one child in front of the other. When it's necessary to punish or scold your child, do it alone in a quite, private place. Scolding him in front of another child can lead to his being teased.

6. Set aside areas for each child. Give your children -- especially the older one -- her own space. Keep each child's own personal things apart from shared ones.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Originally published on, July 2001.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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