You’re ready to explode if you hear one more “But that’s not fair!” or “I hate you!” or the ever-popular “Mom, he’s looking at me!”

If your children struggle to get along, you’re not alone.

Sibling rivalry can quickly become a destructive habit between children. It may also continue throughout the teenage years, or may even begin during that later point in childhood.

Why do some families have children that fight and some have children that seem to get along so well?

If the hostility between your children or teens is becoming exhausting, let’s redirect the energy you’re expending. With these tools, you can put your effort to use and increase the peace in your home.


Here is your 10 step guide to being a family free from sibling rivalry.

1. End the Fair Game

It doesn’t have to be fair. Teach your child that he or she always has the option to do the right thing, even when it would be “fair” to get even.  

It’s not your job to make everything equal. Creating false expectations will only leave you children confused or disappointed.  

2. End the Blame Game  

Parents often try to incentivize a child to “be good” by singling out the child that is seems to be causing the most trouble at that moment. This only creates a negative cycle of trying to blame one another rather than learning to work together to solve a problem.  

Rather than finding the blame, focus on identifying a common goal for everyone, such as being patient or listening before talking.  

3. End comparisons  

If your children or teens are competing against one another, there will always be reason to fight. Never compare your children to one another.  

Encourage good behavior by comparing your child to himself or herself, identifying behavior that you prefer and appreciate which they themselves have exhibited.   This will give your child or teen confidence, hope and a sense of direction.  

4. Increase quality time  

Quality time is not a reward, and it must actually be a guaranteed part your schedule with your child or teen whether your child is behaving well or not. Feeling heard, seen by, and connected to you will increase your child’s ability to regulate emotions and to seek attention in positive (rather than negative) ways.  

Quality time also increases your child or teen’s sense of self-worth and reduces feelings of shame and doubt that often contribute to a pattern of disruptive behavior  

Ideally, quality time will be spent with each parent equally, with both one-on-one time and time with siblings present.  

5. Use rewards, not punishments  

Punishments create a negative cycle in your child or teen’s behavior. Rewarding positive behavior gives your child something to aim for.  

Also, natural consequences are far more effective than punishment for reducing negative behavior. Learn more about natural consequences in this article: When Discipline Doesn’t Work: The #1 Solution for Parents  

6. Praise qualities, not actions  

Your love and approval for your child or teen must never be based on his or her actions.  

If you want to compliment or appreciate your child or teen, identify a quality like honesty, sense of humor, or patience. This gives a child or teen a guideline to aim for in the future, rather than a past action to dwell on, debate, or compare to.  

7. Give your child a choice between two or three options (no more, no less)  

Sibling rivalry can create a cycle of one or both children feeling powerless or misunderstood.  

Rather than trying to control one or both of your children’s behavior, give them options to choose from. This will deescalate the power struggle and teach your child critical thinking, problem solving, and personal responsibility.  

8. Have a clear parenting role  

Only get involved as referee during an argument if something physically or emotionally dangerous is occurring. In all other cases, encourage your children to work out a solution on their own. Getting a reaction out of you by fighting will only encourage future conflict.  

Also, no yelling. None. Let go of your desire to control your child, walk away, and stick to allowing natural consequences to get your point across.  

9. Establish clear and consistent rules  

Part of your role is to set rules and to make sure that these rules are applied to each of your children or teens.  

Actual rules (as opposed to suggestions) are those for which there actually will be no exceptions made.  

What are yours? No physical violence? No name calling? Are you consistent with enforcing these rules, or are they merely suggestions?  

10. Learn to solve problems constructively  

If you fight with your co-parent, your child, or anyone else in your household, seek therapy immediately. There is no sense in guiding your child to solve problems peacefully if you’re already swimming upstream when trying to manage conflict yourself.  

Put your pride aside and start making positive changes!  

Aim for small steps of progress as you practice these tools and don’t hesitate to seek support from positive parents and parenting experts.