Is It Sibling Rivalry or Bullying?


You are proud of all of your children. You see everything that is good in them, so why can’t they see it in each other? While sibling rivalry is normal, it certainly isn’t pleasant. Sometimes it feels like an all out war in your house! While one child works to assert their dominance, another might cower in fear — how do you restore order in your home? Family bliss may be closer than you think.

What Is Sibling Rivalry?

All sibling rivalry comes down to jealousy. This is something you and your children will experience throughout your lives. It makes sense that their first experience with the green eye monster would be with their brother and sister, and since it is their first time dealing with jealousy, it is more likely that their feelings will be all the more intense. This is your opportunity to teach your children to manage their spiteful reactions and handle their competitive nature reasonably.

Is It Rivalry or Bullying?

Most sibling rivalries look like this: the older, stronger sibling will physically torment the younger, weaker sibling. The younger, weaker sibling will then retaliate with harsh words as they know they cannot manage to physically fight back. In this case, you must hold all parties accountable. Maintain that there will be consequences for anyone who curses or hits. If one child goes above and beyond rivalry into bullying, that child must have more serious consequences. Not because you love one child more than another, and not because you blame one child for the argument. You are simply nipping physical aggression in the bud. You follow through with these consequences because one, the older child is old enough to know better. Two, because showing signs of physical aggression indicates that your child feels more in control of their environment by hurting others. This kind of behavior has to stop as soon as possible so as to avoid future, serious conflicts.

Restoring Order To Your Home

Sometimes you won’t know how the argument started or who is responsible. Therefore, you must hold all parties accountable for their actions. Establish a rule that any rivalry will result in a punishment that affects everyone. For instance, if two children start arguing, then all of the children have to go to bed half an hour early. This way, it isn’t a matter of who did what, but rather a reminder that the actions of one family member affects the family as a whole. We are all responsible to each other and must treat each other with respect.

There are a million ways to address sibling rivalry. At the end of the day, jealousy is something we all have to deal with. When you approach it as a family, with unconditional love and understanding children are all the more likely to behave better and grow out of it.


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Are you seeing some sibling rivalry in your home?