why do siblings fight

Why Do Siblings Fight?

With 3 grandsons between the ages of 6 and 11 I sometimes feel that I’m in the middle of a battle zone. Why do siblings fight?

Don’t get me wrong, they’re great kids and they can be nice to each other. And, most of the time they bump along nicely together. But sometimes it feels like all they do is bicker and squabble with each other.

Obviously, not all siblings fight. Just the same as not all parents have disagreements or arguments. But, if you’ve got more than 1 child it’s more than likely that they will go through a phase of fighting with each other.

There are many reasons why Siblings fight. Usually, the underlying cause is jealously or competition. Kids are developing and growing all the time. Learning how to deal with their own emotions.

Toddlers become very protective of their own toys so if a baby brother or sister takes their toys away they’re not going to be very happy.

And, don’t forget your kids all have their own identities and temperaments. You can have one child who is laid back whereas another one might be easy to wind up.

I know with our 3 grandsons they all have very different temperaments and the littlest one knows exactly how to wind the biggest one up.

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3 reasons why siblings may fight

Sometimes kids are just bored and proving a sibling can seem like fun.

With all these new emotions to get under control kids sometimes feel they are being ignored. They may feel that you’re spending too much time and attention on their brother and sisters.

Again, they may perceive that they aren’t being treated the same as their brothers and sisters and this may build up resentment.
This usually ends up with one child constantly bugging another one. It’s not all out war but just constant niggles and bickering. Usually with the constant refrain of “he hit me”, “he’s took my x”, “he won’t give me the y”. You know what it sounds like.

How should you deal with siblings fighting?

This is going to sound easy and I know that when you’ve had a morning of squabbling kids all you want to do is separate them and send them to their rooms to stop the bickering.

However, if you punish them for their fighting they’re just as likely to punish each other. If you work with them on overcoming the problem they’ll learn to do the same in time.

Try and let them work it out on their own but if it’s escalating too much then separate them until they calm down. Once they’ve calmed down try and help them resolve why they were fighting.

Kids need to learn how to resolve these issues for themselves and we don’t help them by stepping in all the time. They need to learn how to compromise and negotiate and how to control their emotions.

The best thing we can do is model the right behaviour and help them work through their conflicts.

Ways to help kids get along

You may be lucky enough not to have siblings that fight, or you may just find that stage is starting. But it’s good to have a couple of strategies to help them get along.

House Rules
Sit down with them and agree a set of house rules for expected behaviour. This could be name calling, no hitting or no door slamming. Also agree the consequences. Write them up and put them up in the kitchen.

Own Space
Make sure your kids have somewhere they can go to get away from everyone and have a bit of their own space. We all need a bit of me time.

One to one time
Treat each child as an individual and spend a little bit of one to one time with each of them doing something they enjoy.

Fun family time
Have fun together as a family. At the end of the day that’s why you’ve had kids is to be a family so enjoy it.

No one said parenting would be easy and it’s our job to help them navigate their way through growing up. Show and tell your kids that, for you, love is not something that comes with limits. Let them know that they are safe, important, and loved. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept bad behaviour.

If you enjoyed reading this you may enjoy What to Love about your Tween and Tween Attitude, Where did that come from?

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11 thoughts on “Why do siblings fight?”

  1. My two fight all of the time. I like to think it’s because they love each other so much. I try to ignore it until it gets too rough and let them figure it out between them.

  2. My closest sister in age and I used to fight like cats and dogs over the littlest things. But we still loved each other. Mum used to separate us or remove whatever we were fighting over.

  3. Great post, thanks. I have 4 boys; the oldest 3 are fairly close in age and get along so well one minute, then suddenly they’re fighting, then best friends again!!

  4. Great tips and a good reminder for me. I have 3 kids and 2 of them just spark off each other, and I just don’t know why sometimes. But maybe I need to address it properly, sit them down and sort it a bit more. Start making some rules too

  5. My two are always fighting, it’s so frustrating. They are 4 and almost 2 and they are just always bickering, it drives me mad. I love your tips though, one on one time definitely works for my eldest as I do think it’s a jealousy and resentment thing with him xx

  6. Question- my grandson and I always got along ever since he was a baby he live with me 50% of the time the other 50 with his mom or slice other grandma and now he is 18 he disrespects me he threatens me. We can be together for five minutes and all hell breaks loose. He turns me in to someone that I am not makes me so angry I scared myself. How do I solve this problem?

    1. Hi Dianna,
      sorry to hear that you’re having problems with your grandson. It must be hard given that you’ve been so close previously.
      I know it’s easier said than done, but have you tried sitting down and talking to him about it. Try asking him how he feels
      and explain to him how his behaviour makes you feel. Stay calm and don’t blame him for his behaviour. As they grow older they
      need more independence and our relationships change but sometimes we’re a little slow at recognising that we need to change.
      If you find it too hard to talk to him you could write him a note about how his behaviour makes you feel but again don’t look to
      blame him, it’s all about trying to understand what the underlying cause is and trying to empathise with him so you can start
      rebuilding your relationship.
      I hope you maange to reconnect with your grandson.

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