sibling conflict

4 Secrets to Improving Sibling Relationships

One of the most mentioned challenges parents write to me about is sibling conflict.

“I wind up yelling at everyone at some point in the day after hours of bickering & fighting.”
“There is constant sibling conflict.”
“I want everyone to feel safe so the sibling fights will just stop!”

sibling conflict

I get it. Growing up these are things my mom would’ve said about the three of us. We’ve also had intense sibling conflict in our family that included abuse and even a pair of kids that didn’t communicate for almost 2 years. While this may seem better than hours of bickering, I wanted to crawl in a hole when the offering plate got stuck in our row at church because those 2 wouldn’t touch it at the same time!

We’ve found 4 secrets that have helped us weather sibling storms.

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Create simple rituals that include all the siblings.

My husband had a blessing that he used to say when we’d put all the kids to bed. The kids often rolled their eyes, but now that three of them are adults, it’s these rituals that they miss. It’s also something in common that the kids remember together. I’ve heard them reminisce, “Remember when mom and dad would make us to bedtime prayers together every night, and dad would bless us!” “Kinda miss it now.” Remember you’re sowing seeds for the future. You can only control you. You can’t control their reactions.

Find fun things that all the siblings like.

Give your kids as many shared fun experiences as you can. Even if they’re super-short. It’s funny how a trip to get ice cream can pull the family together.

Give the siblings space.

I know we may have grandiose ideas of sibling togetherness, but honestly, the more power you give your kids over their relationship with their siblings, the more likely they are to seek it out later in life on their own. While I expect my kids to treat either other with respect, I don’t force them to play together or include each other. I also try not to overreact to bickering. Some of that is normal (especially with teens) even if it doesn’t feel good to my mom-heart.


Some of these things take time. My brother and sister were in their late 20’s before they reconciled. Our two who didn’t talk for years are now best friends. And our daughter who was the most insecure and hated one of her brothers now claims he’s her favorite. Hang in there!

What’s working or not working in your family where siblings relationships are concerned?

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