Tips on Handling Sibling Rivalry with Teens

Raising a teenager is difficult enough, but how about when you have multiple teens in the house?  As a mom of 3 who also raised my brother, I had 3 teens in the house at the same time.  When my youngest daughter entered into her teenage years, my oldest daughter was 16 and my brother who I raised as I would raise a son was 17. It was a fun ride for the most part but there were many instances of sibling rivalry that came up throughout the years.

Sibling rivalry can occur all through childhood but when it reaches the teen years, the rivalry can become very intense causing hurt feelings and frustrated parents.  Believe it or not, sibling rivalry does have a positive side.  When you think about it, it offers your teen a chance to experience with and learn how to handle conflicts in a safe environment (your home).  It also allows the teen to learn how to negotiate, and empathize. It also teaches your teen some hard facts:  unfortunately, life isn’t always fair and you may not always get what you want.

Now that I’ve talked briefly about the positive side of it, I know what you are dying to know is how to keep it controlled.  There is nothing worse then having parents walking on eggshells and secretly praying that their kids don’t fight at the drop of a hat on a daily basis.   

There are many things that parents can do to help put an end to sibling rivalry.  Read below for some tips: 

Tread Lightly – As your teens grow older,  direct mediation of sibling rivalry may not be needed but rules definitely are.  If you jump in to the middle of your teens argument, it may just make things worse.  It actually reinforces to them that fighting is a surefire way to get your attention.  Of course, there should be limits on the noise level and under no circumstance am I suggesting that you don’t intervene if they are becoming physical.  it is important to set clear rules and then execute swift consequences for breaking rules.

One on One Time – Your teens want to feel as if they are the center of your world.  Set aside time to spend with each sibling on a one-on-one basis.  Make the special time about that one child.  Let him/her choose the place that you go or the thing that you do.  Make the one-on-one time something that does require talking – this may provide some insight into the root of the rivalry between the teens while  creating a strong bond with the child.

Keep it Positive & Don’t Compare -   Remind each child that they are their own person with their own gifts and talents that are unique to them.  Encourage your teen to follow their talents and not compare themselves to others.   Many parents compare children to one another without really knowing the damage that this can cause.  Instead of making a comment like “when your brother was your age” or “if you would just be more like your sister”, you should focus on the positives of the sibling you are talking to.  “You are doing so much better this  semester  with your school work.”  “You are working so much harder to get your chores done and I can tell a big difference.”  I find it works best when you positively focus on the teen you are speaking with and keep siblings out of the comments. 

Open Dialogue – It is important to keep an open dialogue with all siblings.  You can better judge how the teens feel about themselves and each other and what the cause of the problem is when they feel comfortable to talk to you about any and everything. 

All siblings are going to feel the need to compete with each other at some time or another, its inevitable. Whether they compete in sports, for grades or for your attention, this is normal.  How you handle the rivalry will determine whether your teens grow adults resenting each other or being the best of friends.

Download your totally free guide all about –> Parenting Your Teen When The Road Gets Bumpy .

About Aurelia Williams (27 Posts)

Aurelia Williams is a Certified Life Coach, Parenting Expert, Internet Marketer and Podcaster. Aurelia is passionate about helping women and is always looking for ways to lend a supportive hand to others in order to make their lives a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable. She is the owner of Parenting My Teen which is a resource site and podcast. Her site is jammed packed with anything you as a parent of a teen are dealing with on a daily basis. She offers a fresh perspective on the parent-teen relationship and also offers wonderful tools, resources and advice.


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  1. 1
    denny hagel says:

    Excellent tips Aurelia! I have found too that sometimes just letting them work it out, not putting any attention on it often times they forget and move on…Such high emotions during the teen years that as quick as the flame is lit it blows out!

  2. 2

    Great article! My three kids are 5 years apart, so (luckily) I didn’t experience the rivalry that many of my friends have. Nonetheless, it was very important in our home to have open communication…nothing was off limits to discuss. Some topics, as their mom, I would find myself secretively cringing, but the kids could talk about anything. I always encouraged the other kids to chime in during discussions so that we could get everyone’s perspective. This has resulted in my kids being excellent problem solvers and creative thinkers.

    I’ll end this comment with a quote from your article…I just love it! “Remind each child that they are their own person with their own gifts and talents that are unique to them. Encourage your teen to follow their talents and not compare themselves to others.”

    • 2.1
      Aurelia says:

      Thank you so much for commenting Kelli!

      I love hearing parents tell me that they have No limits on what the children can speak freely about at home. I love that you said you would always encourage all of your children to participate in the conversation. That is a great way to make each of your children feel special and validated! What a great mom you are.

  3. 3
    Donna Vail says:

    Fabulous article filled with sound advice! I’ve found it extremely important to encourage friendship between siblings so they can grow into life-long friends. It is SO important to not compare and appreciate everyone individually and encourage that among each other. The family dynamics are here to balance us out and provide a rich environment for our growth. When we stay in this mindset instead of being reactive, I believe the teen years don’t have to be so turbulent. I have a grown daughter, two younger children and three teens in the middle. Never a dull moment in the house! Gotta love them through it.

  4. 4
    Davis says:

    I have found that, often, the siblings that clash the most growing up, end up being the closest to each other as adults. Kinda of funny how that works.