Power Parenting: Sibling Conflict: Getting at the Roots

Because kids are spending much more time at home than before, there is a much greater opportunity for conflict to arise between siblings. Parents during these times are faced with many new challenges—and sibling conflict is one of them. When it comes to sibling conflict, it’s very common for all of us to focus on the wrong problem—their relationship with each other rather than our relationship with each of them. Healthy parent-child relationships are characterized by two things. First, the child needs to feel unconditionally loved. Second, the child must see their parents as the undisputed authority figures in the home. People who care enough to study Love and Logic materials (such as this tip) rarely have an issue with the “love” part of this equation. It comes naturally! The part that they struggle with is the authority part, which I struggle with as well! Perhaps it’s helpful to remember that when we provide strong leadership and not just friendship, we will see:

Happier kids who tend to get along far better with us.
More secure kids who have fewer conflicts with each other.
Kids who respect us enough to stop arguing with each other when we ask, “Guys? Will you stop that, please?”

When we display relational weakness, chronic sibling conflict is a sure result. Kids almost always fight with each other more when they lack consistent and loving limits. Too frequently, all of us slip into the habit of addressing symptoms rather than core causes. When we do so, we find ourselves endlessly spinning our wheels, dealing with recurring symptoms, or discovering new symptoms that continuously erupt in new and unpredictable ways. Real and lasting solutions to recurring family issues involve taking strategic steps toward reestablishing loving authority in the home. The first step involves asking the following questions:

Are we setting enough limits that can be enforced?
Are we enforcing these limits with empathy and logical consequences rather than trying to do so with empty threats and lectures?
Are the kids able to manipulate us, their parents, against each other?
Are we trying too hard to be their friends rather than focusing on remaining friendly authority figures?

We hope that this tip will help you get at the root of sibling conflict and sibling rivalry. For additional insights, listen to our audio, Sibling Rivalry: Teaching Your Kids how to Get Along. Love & Logic.com