Stopping Sibling

I hear there are families out there where the siblings get along beautifully at all times. There is no teasing or poking, just love and support at all times. I've never met one of these families myself, and I am starting to wonder if they are really a faerie tale meant to make the rest of us feel bad. I refuse to feel bad, though.

Brother Yelling at SisterOkay, maybe I feel a little bad. It seems like no matter what I do, there is an undercurrent of poking one another between Alfs and Woody. Call it teasing, call it poking, call it whatever. It's that interaction that runs the fine line between okay and not so okay.

Button pushing experts

No one, it seems, can push your buttons like your family member. Heck, they probably created the buttons in the first place! My siblings do it to me, I admit doing it to them (only a little though). I recognize that as the kids are growing up and learning about this world, they practice behaviors and such - good and not so good - on each other. As parents we need to guide them as to what is okay and not so okay.


Lately though, the teasing/poking/annoying seems to be taking a more intense turn. As parents, my husband and I are spending more time breaking up the less than positive interactions. We are trying to figure out why this is happening now and what we can do about it. So far we're at a bit of a loss.


Is something else going on?

While teasing among siblings is fairly common, sometimes teasing by one sibling to another becomes excessive. In this case, there may be something else going on - it may be more than just the usual sibling stuff.


It may be time to take each of the kids aside and have a calm talk with them about the behaviors that are causing the most problems. Talk about what else is going on in your child's life. Is there something at school that is bothering them, and they are just taking out that stress on a convenient target? Is there some other stress? Can you mitigate that stress?


Talk about the kind of behavior you expect from your child, and in a positive way. Reiterate that you believe in their ability to make the good choices. Brainstorm ways to help that happen. But also be clear about consequences for not working at improving the situation.


Break a cycle - or a circumstance

Perhaps everyone just needs to get out of the current environment and see and do something new. While I hate to feel like I am rewarding less than ideal behaviors by taking the kids out to do something particularly fun, sometimes that is exactly what we all need.


Maybe it's a movie or a trip to a museum or a hike or something. Maybe it's finding a friend and getting together at a playground or something. Regardless of what it is, a change of scenery can help. Avoiding the situations in which the negative behaviors occur most often can do wonders.


Sometimes nothing works

In some senses, this kind of behavior just happens. If it's not overly destructive and both sides seem to be holding their own, maybe it just needs to happen. It's not my favorite scenario, but occasionally it seems to be the right choice. The boys (eventually) work it out on their own.


If nothing seems to be working, perhaps just backing off for a little bit is the right thing to do. In which case, I recommend and iPod and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio.


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Comments on "How to deal with sibling rivalry"

Katie January 02, 2013 | 5:05 PM

Growing up, my parents did their best to just separate us, which would work until we were all back together and we'd fight again. I hope my kids get along but I know that's wishful thinking, haha.

Megan November 29, 2012 | 9:03 AM

I really like the part about stepping out of the environment and doing something different, like hiking or visiting a museum. The same is true for anyone arguing - couples, kids, parents with kids, etc. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to reconnect!

Michelle L August 24, 2010 | 10:03 PM

I totally disagree with the last one. I've seen children be horribly rotten to one another when left to their own devices. And it gets worse behind the parents' backs that way. Not good at all. Let the real world (school, groups/sports they are in) teach them how life is unfair. At home teach them that they must behave civilly, and be fair to everyone, and that's all there is. There should be no tolerance for the rude behavior towards each other. All children need their foundation in right and fairness at home. Teach them that it doesn't matter if life is unfair, it is their job IN life to make everything as fair as they can, and do the right thing as soon as they know what it is. By letting them beat up on each other physically or verbally you teach them that being kind of unfair is okay, as long as it's "not too bad," and that no one is going to stop them from doing what they want. The children who don't learn the civil behavior become the loser teenagers and adults, who feel that since everything is unfair anyway they can do whatever they want. These are the leeches on society and welfare. So start at home. Bad behavior is punished, no exceptions. Consistency is key. Lose consistency and you lose everything you've taught. If they know they can get away with it when the parents are tired or if they only do little things, then they will spend the rest of their time pushing to see how far they can go.

Jennifer June 21, 2010 | 3:31 PM

Good article....However, we are in the stage---nothing works. It's gotten beyond physical. When one sister decides to call 1-800 Got Junk, get rid of a sisters dog, and literally move her things in the flat where she got rid of her sister's things----all without her sister's permission. Her mother owns the house, therefore, she turned the other way when this violation occurs but allows it to happen since she favors the daughter who did this. Legally, there is no claim since the mother refuses to press charges or testify that the favored daughter did this. Being that it is her house, she will charge the other daughter with trespassing, even though she allowed her to leave her stored things there. Please respond. There has been physical also, in which the favored daughter jumped her sisters more than once and she holds a professional license.

stressed mom June 15, 2010 | 9:12 PM

this information is NOT helpful!

Martha Hassler May 26, 2010 | 8:43 AM

Didn't get much in the way of info- ads came out beautifully- don't need to use color so much because it costs more! How about "Other Related Articles"? Couldn't get the text to come up! MH

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