Dealing with Sibling Rivalry




Got a case of sibling rivalry? Here’s how some moms keeping the peace and strengthen their kids’ connections.

“It’s a combination of keeping them together so they can learn to appreciate each other and giving them solo time. As Oscar outgrew his afternoon nap, I would take him along on my weekend errands while Arlen slept, and emphasize, ‘Just you and me, together. We make a great team; you’re a great helper’—generally giving him some confidence-boosting and bonding types of scripts, with good old unplanned silly fun thrown in.” Heather Maile O’Hara, mom to Oscar, 5, and Arlen, 3

“Having Colton teach Brienna how to be a big kid has helped. She will ask him for help first sometimes. I encourage Colton to do small tasks for Brienna to help me as well (getting her cup off the counter, helping each other clean up, unbuckling her car seat, etc.). She certainly looks up to him and wants to be able to do the things he can.” Megan Ventura, mom to Colton, 4, and Brienna, 2

“When things go badly, we often remind them of the importance of being siblings—that they are support systems for one another and will always have each other. We also encourage them to verbally apologize to one another and hug each other after a fight.” Carrie Carroll, mom to 3-year-old twins Drew and Celeste

“I think the kids really respond to seeing in print what your family values are and what your expectations are. They like the boundaries and knowing that being kind to each other is a priority in your house.” Jennifer Vallens, mom to Evan, 8, and Mason, 6

“We selectively intervene in their fights. You have to read situations and if there is potential for the volume to come down on its own—and for one of them to decide to share or find something else to play with, you have to let that happen.” —Salim Catrina, mom to Zoe, 6, and Maya, 3

“If they fight over a toy and can’t resolve it by sharing or taking turns, I take it away and put it up on the fireplace mantle, and nobody gets to play with it the rest of the day (yet they can still see it, ha!). We also have a timer that we set for five minutes and we count down the minutes. (“Three minutes left and then it’s Owen’s turn.”) It works pretty well because it establishes clear expectations and they know that after the other kid’s turn, they’ll get the item back again.”

Timorah Beales, mom to Owen, 4, and Carissa, 2