How to Stop Bickering Siblings

Cathi Cohen, LCSW

As frustrating as it is to be around quarreling siblings, do know that this is not only normal, but desirable. There is no such thing as a conflict-free household. Instead, the goal is for a family to work through issues in a healthy way. Children learn tremendously how their behavior impacts other people from feedback from their siblings. I have a few ideas for you:

  1. Special time with each of your children individually is probably the most useful way to reduce conflict at home. Even 15 minutes of regularly scheduled time once a week doing an activity of your child’s choice is enough time to help your child feel he/she is a priority to you and lessen the conflict between siblings.
  2. Establish a family meeting one time weekly to resolve conflicts creatively as a family.
  3. Create clear family ground rules and consequences for breaking the ground rules.
  4. Encourage cooperation by doing family projects i.e. plant a garden, build a tree house, etc.
  5. Develop rituals to build family identity i.e. weekly family movie night, breakfast for dinner night.
  6. Get involved in sibling conflicts as little as possible; communicate trust that they can work it out together.
  7. Remember these Dont’s: don’t compare your children; don’t take sides; don’t reward tattlers; don’t let yourself get too emotional.