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How fathers can handle sibling rivalry

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 18-01-2007


  • Encourage kids to work out conflicts on their own: When elementary-age children argue, the best approach is usually not to get involved. Instead, see if you can get them to work it out themselves.
  • Try not to foster competition: As tempting as it may be to get your C+ grade-schooler to model herself on her honor-roll sibling, don’t try. Comparisons send a competitive message and can really intensify a rivalry. Your job is to help all your children do their best, on their terms.
  • Take steps to stop the putdowns: “Mom likes me better.” “You look like a hamster.” “You smell bad.” a brother or sister’s taunts and barbs can intensify a rivalry or reinforce a negative self-image.
    So unlike your hands-off approach to bickering, it’s wise to step in and stop the putdowns. When you are alone with your child, you can tell him/her, “It’s not okay to say hurtful things to your brother.” If you correct your children in front of a sibling, they are likely to exact revenge for the humiliation caused.