If you have a brother or sister or multiple siblings, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to conflict with each other, regardless of how well in general you get along. You may find battling with a sibling annoying, stressful or even exhausting, but it’s a part of growing up.
You may already have experienced many of the most common reasons why siblings don’t get along. The most common, according to researchers, is competition for parental attention. Kids want attention from their parents – for food, information, funding, and much more. When kids find themselves competing with siblings for such resources, trouble can ensue.
Believe it or not, experiencing differences with a sibling can actually be beneficial in the long-term. By periodically conflicting, you learn vital life-skill concepts like problem-solving, conflict resolution and forgiveness.
What’s the best way to deal with a bothersome sibling? Consider the following six suggestions:
- Be a quality sibling yourself – It’s tough to expect a brother or sister to treat you well if you’re not behaving well yourself. Be the type of brother or sister you’d like your siblings to be by practicing honesty, loyalty, compassion and trustworthiness.
- Know the triggers for differences – If you know that a particular sibling is often grumpy first thing in the morning or when hungry, don’t “poke the bear” and spark a disagreement at that time. Save your desire to bring up a difficult subject for a better time of day.
- Set boundaries – Make clear to a sibling acceptable and unacceptable behavior toward you, including spoken words, and the consequences. If a sibling oversteps boundaries, follow through on your promised consequences, or expect the behavior to recur.
- Keep calm, and go elsewhere – Often, the easiest way to deal with a difficult sibling is to stay cool or leave. If a sibling is bugging you, don’t give them the satisfaction of getting upset. If possible, go to another area inside or outside your home. Or, ask your sibling to do so.
- Listen to adult advice – Your parent or other trusted adults might have already encouraged you to use calm words in a sibling conflict. For example, if a sibling has damaged your school project, calmly asking, “Why did you do that?” will go further than acting out in anger. Plus, you might even be able to convince this sibling to help repair your project!
- Call in a parent or other adult as a final resort – If possible, it’s better to work out issues directly with your sibling. However, if it seems that differences cannot be resolved yourselves, ask a parent or other trusted adult to assist. Just know that a parent’s conflict resolution may not be what you had hoped. For instance, a parent’s solution to a squabble over a TV show or video game might be turning off the device and instructing you both to go outside.