How to Handle Siblings Arguing: 9 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Teach kids how to negotiate and compromise.

Siblings can go from being the best of friends to the worst of enemies and back to the best of friends again. The most amazing part is that these radical changes can all take place within an hour's time. Celebrate the times when siblings are getting along. And, when conflict arises, use it as a teachable moment to help kids learn conflict-resolution and problem-solving skills. Parents can use several techniques to help encourage siblings to get along.


  1. 1
    Establish ground rules about conflict. For example, tell kids that behaviors such as hitting and name calling will result in a consequence. Appropriate consequences can include time-outs or loaning a toy to a sibling for 24 hours. Encourage kids to seek help from a parent when a sibling breaks a rule.
  2. 2
    Ignore arguing initially, as long as it is safe to do so. Parenting expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears recommends that parents ignore small arguments. Parents should give kids a warning and provide them with a few minutes to try and resolve conflict on their own before stepping in. For example, say "I'm going to come back in one minute and if you haven't decided who is going to take the first turn, I'll take the game away." This can motivate kids to resolve conflict on their own.
  3. 3
    Follow through on your warning. Return in one minute to check to see whether kids have resolved the issue. If so, provide them with praise for resolving the conflict. If not, follow-through with a consequence.
  4. 4
    Separate your children if the arguing continues. This provides them with an opportunity to calm down and distract themselves with other activities. Also, when you stop the arguing, at least temporarily, it provides you with a brief reprieve to help preserve your sanity.
  5. 5
    Send a child to time-out if the child has difficulty calming down or controlling his anger. Time-out can be a useful tool for kids who are yelling, name calling or becoming physically aggressive. Time-out can take place in a chair on the stairs or in a room, as long it is not rewarding or stimulating to the child. Plan on one minute of time-out for each year of age. For example, a 4-year-old should serve a four-minute time-out.
  6. 6
    Remove privileges from children when time-out doesn't work. If a child refuses to go to time-out or returns from time-out and begins arguing again, take away a privilege. Privileges such as watching television, playing with a favorite toy or going outside can be effective consequences. Choose a privilege that your child really enjoys so that when it is taken away, it will motivate your child to go to time-out next time.
  7. 7
    Teach children how to resolve conflicts peacefully. Demonstrate how to negotiate and compromise when conflict arises.
  8. 8
    Praise kids whenever you catch them peacefully resolving conflicts. Give lots of attention to kids when they share, treat one another respectfully, take turns, negotiate and compromise.
  9. 9
    Establish a reward system to encourage kids to get along. recommends that parents provide positive recognition and rewards for children when they find peaceful resolutions to conflict. Provide points or stickers throughout the day that can be exchanged for rewards, such as staying up later or choosing a special snack.


  • Don't feel you need to treat your kids equally all the time or that you need to make things fair. Older children deserve the opportunity to earn extra privileges as they mature.Spend time with each of your children alone. This can prevent them from competing for attention and might improve their behaviors.Encourage each child to have separate interests and activities so they can develop their own friendships and hobbies.


  • Normal sibling rivalry does not include serious physical altercations. If your children are engaging in violent behaviors toward one another, seek professional help.Also seek professional help if the arguing between the children is causing marital problems or is affecting the emotional well-being of anyone in the home.If you suspect the conflict is related to underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, have your child evaluated by a mental health worker.

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