Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids     Teen Health    

Harmonious siblings…is there such a thing?



Mommy blogger suggests eight tips to help your kids stay friends

kids, siblings, rivalry, parents, peace, tips


When Tommy of the Smothers Brothers comedy duo joked repeatedly, “Mom always liked you best,” he was playing on our painful awareness of how friction can arise between siblings. Most of us make an effort not to favor one child over another, but parents will help their kids get along even better by following these tips from the blog MamaSmiles.

Schedule family activities.

Bonds are fortified when the family spends time together regularly, in situations where you can interact, talk, laugh. Possible activities to share include taking walks, making art or crafts, playing age-appropriate versions of chess, Monopoly and listening to music.

Give kids a chance to solve their own conflicts.

They need to practice negotiation skills, and they often come up with great, fair solutions. Intervene only when necessary.

Emphasize problem-solving.

If you do have to step into an argument, don't be distracted by the kids' accounts of the conflict. Focus on how to solve the problem they're fighting over. Also be aware of predisposing causes such as hunger, being tired or lack of individual attention from parents.

Make respect important.

Teach your kids to treat each other with respect, even when they don't understand each other's emotions. Make sure to model the same respect in your relationships with them.

View each child as an individual.

Resist the urge to pigeonhole or label kids by identifying them by their talents or emphasizing their birth order. The less you label them, the more freedom they'll have to follow their own interests and not feel constrained by your view of them and their siblings.

Prioritize people over objects.

If your kids insist on fighting over a toy, it's appropriate to refuse to allow either of them to play with the toy for a while. Show them that their relationship is more important than their possessions.

Comment on kindness.

Notice when they do nice things for each other, however small, and let them know you appreciate such kindnesses. 

Read books on the topic.

Recommended books include Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012) and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Laura Markham (TarcherPerigee, 2015).



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • A “good enough” parent is good enough

    Go easy on yourself

    Even in the best of times, parenting is a challenge. Mom Catherine Pearson gives tips on how to be better to both yourself and your family. read more »
  • Dealing with dad depression

    Helpful hints for when dad-oriented depression arises

    The bundle of joy that either makes or increases the size of a family can also bring some mental health issues for dads. Here’s how to deal. read more »
  • Making friends with technology (sort of)

    Google puts more power in the hands of parents

    After a crash course in how to use monitoring settings, stay-at-home dad Adrian shares how he helps his kids use, rather than abuse, technology. read more »
  • Laughter still the best medicine

    A father focuses on humor to help navigate his daughter’s teen years

    Dad blogger Jeff Bogle focuses on laughter instead of “drugs, drinking, unprotected sex, vaping, and neck tattoos.” read more »
  • Positive discipline in everyday parenting plus a free book

    A new effective approach to discipline

    Almost everybody knows corporal punishment is bad, but what’s the best alternative? Dr. Joan Durrant offers some excellent tips. read more »
  • Kids’ fight club

    A dad weighs in on rough playground playing

    Chris Ryan takes us to the playground with him and his son, and we see how one father deals with the inevitable fighting. read more »
  • Setting consequences for teens

    How to get your teen to follow rules

    We want to let our teenagers explore limits while staying safe. This article suggests ways to set and enforce rules without resorting to punishment, which is generally counterproductive. read more »
  • Mental health tips for COVID-era teens

    How teens can tackle their distinctive issues

    Mental health issues in teens can be very distinctive to their age group, but this age group in particular has significant advantages, too. read more »
  • Play dates 2.0

    Play dates are back. But be cautious

    In many Hudson Valley communities coronavirus numbers are trending downwards, but best to celebrate outside, with masks and social distancing read more »
  • Get physical while remote learning

    How do we teach kids to deal with the world in real time not on screens?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of activity a day, but Dr. Cicely White, chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente in Spokane, WA, says that hour of time need not happen all at once. read more »