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Sibling rivalry?

By Sheri Wohlfert

Sibling Rivalry? How to Keep a Balance

How to Keep a Balance

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (GEN 4:9)


Sibling rivalry is as old as Cain and Abel, and I think that’s about how long parents have been trying to find the best way to deal with it! There can be some positive outcomes from sibling rivalries and conflicts; in fact, they are some of the earliest experiences we have in learning to compromise, negotiate and problem-solve. But sometimes the rivalries can spin to a level of concern, so here are some strategies to help keep a balance.

Create situations where siblings support and help each other. Helping with anything from sight words to shoe tying to throwing the perfect spiral gives siblings the chance to work together, share talents and build empathy as they help each other progress from struggle to success.

Celebrate instead of compare. Children need to know they are loved and appreciated for who they are. Comparing one child to another only intensifies the rivalry and creates division. It can be easy for children to think better grades or more home runs equals more love and approval. It’s important to celebrate accomplishments and achievements of all kinds, and siblings need to celebrate, too. An occasional appearance at a sibling’s event is a simple show of support that has a big impact.

God’s plan for families is to support and love each other, so creating an atmosphere where family is the most important thing will help balance rivalry. If you teach your kids that nothing is more important than family, it becomes easier to identify the things that can cause rivalry and undermine family unity. Conflict and rivalry are bound to be a part of family life, but kids need to know that family trumps everything.

“Lift-ups” follow “put-downs.” Sibling honesty often feels like a put-down, so every time a sibling spits out a put-down, he or she needs to offer a comment or action that lifts their sibling up.

Siblings are a gift, and children need to be taught that they are indeed their brother’s and sister’s keeper, and they have a responsibility to pray for their siblings and desire their holiness. When rivalries intensify, taking time to help them look at their siblings through the eyes of the Father, recognizing the gifts and talents God gave them, can restore peace.


Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org

Credit: Getty Images/SpicyTruffel