Dealing with Sibling Rivalry and Jealousy


Sibling rivalry and jealousy is often present in families with more than one child and you see it when siblings bicker constantly and don’t get along with each other. There can be many reasons for this behaviour but it usually has to do with the child feeling like his parents love the other siblings more  than him or feeling like he is getting less attention than the others.

Our 5-year-old has been dealing with his own feelings of jealousy since our second son was born. We are working on helping him manage his feelings and emotions and finding strategies to deal with the sibling rivalry now to avoid issues that can get carried over into his adult life.

Some of the strategies we have been following and implementing at home with our 5-year-old and 2-year-old are:

  1. No Violence Rule: We have a no violence rule in the house and the children know that physical violence is unacceptable. No matter how upset they are they should not turn to violence and all arguments must be resolved peacefully. It is also important to praise them when they solve conflicts or arguments peacefully.
  2. Stop Hurtful Comparisons: We have stopped comparing our children in front of them. Hearing sibling comparisons and criticism can hurt their feelings and they may interpret it as you loving them less than their siblings.
  3. Encourage Relationship Building Activities: Lately we have been really encouraging our eldest to help his brother do little things that he is not able to do on his own yet. He loves helping his baby brother and he enjoys feeling like the older, wiser child who is being helpful. We praise this behaviour and our youngest LOVES having his brother’s attention as well.
  4. Alone Time With Each Child: We have also been making an effort to set time aside to focus on “mommy and me” or “daddy and me” time with each one of the boys. The one-on-one individual time is so important for everyone! Both boys are always thrilled to have our undivided attention for that time.
  5. Give the Kids Their Own Space: It is important to set up a space that is your child’s own personal space to keep their own toys apart from the shared ones. I have to work hard at keeping our toddler from grabbing some of his things without his brother’s permission but it is important to be consistent. I find a lot of the conflict starts when he feels his brother doesn’t respect his own personal things.
  6. Don’t Scold Your Child in Front of His Sibling: Whenever you are disciplining your child it is important to take a moment to find a quite, private place to do so. I often go and have a chat with the offending child in their room away from the other child as needed. It is easy for siblings to tease each other and create unnecessary tension and you want to avoid that.

How do you deal with sibling rivalry and jealousy? I would love to hear your tips and what works for your family!

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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela van Tijn and I live in Vancouver, Canada with my wonderful husband, our two boys and our puppy. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!

14 responses to “Dealing with Sibling Rivalry and Jealousy”

  1. Alone time with each child is so important!

  2. Thank you for the tips! I find this a real challenge… no matter how hard I try, they always compare themselves to one another “you let … get away with everything” … etc… It’s hard for me to explain to them that as a parent I am not going to be treating them the same.. because there is SEVEN YEARS difference between them!! But as kids I guess that part is hard to grasp! lol

  3. Great tips! I am expecting #2 at the moment so I have no tips but I enjoyed reading your post 🙂

  4. These are some great tips that I will have to use with my children!

  5. The rivalry was HUGE between my sister and I when we were kids. We are 11 months apart.
    My own kids are 15 yrs apart…..nothing to worry about lol

    Definitely some great tips here, especially about the scolding in front of the other sibling…..

  6. great tips , its important to spend one on one time i agree , thanks for sharing , 🙂

  7. I don’t have this situation to deal with, but your strategies sound very effective. One thing that can be hard is sibling rivalry can last into senior citizen years, so it is worth tackling and helping siblings appreciate having each other.

  8. The tips are great! May I also suggest that each child get their own special day, and especially for their birthday… I always had to share my birthday with my sister (and we had our days two months apart), but because my sister was my mother’s favourite, we always had a party for her.

  9. great tips. I haven’t had to deal with sibling rivalries yet but always good to be prepared!

  10. The Second “don’t compare” is number one on my list, I learned that my kids will learn stuff etc at their own pace, and no two kids are the same.

  11. When my brother was born, my sister was 3. She hated the idea of another baby besides her…so she tried to throw him in a snow bank. Luckily that never happened. LOL

  12. It’s not easy for the older child to accept that he/she is no longer the sole centre of attention. I agree that alone time spent with each child is important.

  13. Your tips are sensible and workable.
    When our children were a bit older, we woud have a family council where each child(we had five) would air any real or imagined grievances and the others would listen and add their own opinion.
    This was a ‘safe’ time to air any problems and have others discuss solutions.
    There were no ‘putdowns’ allowed and each child was to tell his/her real feelings about any situation.
    I found this very helpful. In fact, they had their own sessions later, without me!

  14. cool tips.. being mom is complicated. I am dealing with this problem now

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