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There's nothing quite as frustrating as witnessing your kids quarrel and fight. The question is, what do you do about it?

Are you beyond fed-up with the conflicts your kids get into, and wish they'd just get along already? Occasional conflict between siblings is completely inevitable — no two humans will always see eye-to-eye, and your kids are no exception. There's no need to resign yourself to the idea that constant quarreling is just what children do, though! Teaching your kids conflict-resolution techniques will make your life easier, them happier, and will continue to serve them well throughout their childhoods and adult lives. How do you do it?

Sibling Rivalry Vs Sibling Conflict

"Sibling rivalry" is a much-used term, but what does it actually mean? We're talking about an existential kind of jealousy and competition among siblings here — something that can certainly lead to open conflict, but can also manifest as a below-the-surface tension, and as self-esteem struggles for the children involved.

Statistics suggest that such internalized feelings of competition persist into adulthood for a full third of those who have brothers and sisters, however, the modern take on sibling rivalry is that it is not an inevitable component of siblinghood at all. 

Sibling rivalry, the theory goes, results from kids' subconscious needs to fight each other for their parents' love and attention. An obvious way to try to prevent it is, then, ensuring that your children don't feel this is necessary. By avoiding comparing their children, allowing them to shine as individuals, actively nurturing each kid's interests and strengths, and helping them see each other as equals rather than competitors, parents can help create family dynamics that thrive on cooperation rather than rivalry. Though this is not a fail-safe approach to a rivalry-free home, it sure helps. 

Existential-level rivalry among siblings can often be prevented, but of course that doesn't mean that there won't be sibling conflicts. Conflicts are an inherent part of the human condition, and people who see each other as often as siblings in childhood do certainly can't expected to get through all their years together without arguments, hurt feelings, and in the case of young children, often physical fights too. Sibling conflict may be normal, but knowing effective conflict-resolution strategies can make life a lot more pleasant — for your kids, and for you too!

What Do You Need To Pay Special Attention To?

Feelings of competition with brothers and sisters are most likely to reach a height between the ages of 10 and 15, when children are also heading towards puberty or already there, and are beginning to contemplate their own sense of identity more than before. Children who are close in age and of the same gender are especially at risk of having a tumultuous relationship, but frequent sibling conflict can also be the result of either a clash of personality or the opposite scenario: being very similar to one another. 

An introverted child who needs their private space to recharge their batteries in combination with a highly extroverted sibling who feels rejected when their brother or sister wants to spend time alone is a perfect recipe for conflict.

A stressful period of life for kids — being bullied at school, facing standardized testing, a new baby in the home, or friendship challenges — makes sibling conflict more likely. Kids who are generally suffering from "cabin fever", are bored, hungry, or have unmet needs for physical activity and human interaction are also perfect candidates for fight-picking. That's what we do: we take our stresses out on those who happen to be there, in close quarters!

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