PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Sibling Rivalry: Get Over It!

There are many things you can do to make sibling rivalries smaller...or at least easier to deal with. Tools for dealing with jealousy, favoritism, and comparison are the biggies. Here are some more!

The Short-Term
What do you do when your sib has just pushed you to the breaking point, and you feel like you're about to explode? A parent might not be available or willing to step in. You can:

  • Take a breath and count to 10.
  • Think about who you're really angry with. Are you really mad at the adults in your family and just taking it out on your brother or sister?
  • Take a break from your brother or sister.
  • Take some time for yourself. Listen to music, take a walk, hang with your pet, play video games, or write in your journal.

When you're ready to hang with your sibling again, tell him a joke to break the ice or invite her to play some basketball or video games. You can ease into an apology, or just forget the whole thing and move on. Later, when things have cooled off, you may want to talk to your family members about what caused the fight and how you could prevent one in the future.

The Long-Term
Many conflicts that start out small can get bigger and more destructive over time. Our family members shouldn't be enemies, so it's important to get past the causes of a rivalry, change our attitudes and behavior, and -- GASP! -- start thinking of our sibs as friends. Here are some things to remember:

  • Winning isn't everything. Getting the most out of life doesn't mean always coming in first, especially where your family is concerned. Try your best, sure, but let your sibs get some of the glory too. There's room for everyone in the spotlight.

  • Learn to share. First set up some ground rules and compromises, then open your closet or your videogame system to your sib.

  • Don't be needy or greedy. Trust that your parents love and respect you, even if they can't always show it with attention or gifts. If it's been too long since your folks have given you what you need, or if you've done something that deserves praise, let them know.

  • Fair is better than equal. Remember the difference, and remind yourself when you feel you need it.

  • Know when the line has been crossed. This is really important. If a sibling is hurting you physically, do not hesitate to tell a parent, teacher or guardian about it. The same goes for emotional hurt, like when your brother or sister has been intentionally making you feel bad about yourself. Abuse is not about rivalry. It's bullying, and you don't have to put up with it.

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