How to Deal with Sibling Conflict

I’m not sure how many of you reading have siblings, but I’ll take a guess that quite a few of you do. I have siblings myself – two brothers. To make that sibling dynamic a little more complicated, I am the middle child so have an older (by ten years) and younger (by 4 years) brother. Needless to say, because of the age gap and our varying personalities, we don’t always get along so well. Siblings don’t always get along for several different reasons, and this can be when siblings are still young and living at home or when everyone is grown up and living their own lives. Needless to say, though, no one really wants to have a conflict with someone they are related to or someone they live with because it can make things quite tense and unpleasant. So today I thought I’d look at ways to deal with sibling conflict, being a sibling myself and after seeing a mix of both my friends dealing with their siblings and parents dealing with their own squabbling siblings. So, from whichever angle you are coming from in terms of sibling conflict, I hope you enjoy today’s blog post!

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Think about the source of the conflict

As I said, there are many reasons why there could be conflict between siblings and the only way to truly find a way to get past that conflict, is to figure out what the source is. Of course, if the issue is sibling rivalry (which is common even in adult siblings), then you will have a different solution to someone who has problems because their sibling and they just have polar opposite personalities. Most of the time, though, siblings just don’t get along, and it’s not really due to anything more than a simple conflict or clash in personalities. I’m sure there are a few habits your sibling has that drive you up the wall. My brothers certainly drive me nuts with their habits on the best of days. What makes it a little worse is, unlike with friends or instances where you can just leave, you’re kind of stuck with your sibling. The truth is, conflict isn’t always unavoidable but by knowing why you can hopefully get to a point where you can solve it and move forward as happy, (hopefully loving) siblings in a healthy relationship.

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Be civil with each other 

No law says you have to adore your sibling and worship the ground they walk on or even be the best of friends. I don’t know how that would be possible for all siblings in the world because sometimes that just isn’t how the cookie crumbles. My older brother and I were hardly friends until I was in high school (probably because of the age gap) but just because there was conflict and we weren’t each other’s biggest fans, doesn’t mean we can’t be civil to each other. Being polite to your sibling is a great way to stop the conflict in its tracks and stop things from getting too nasty or unpleasant. You don’t have to like each other, but because they are your sibling, you should at least be able to be civil with them. That is the first step to moving from merely being civil to actually having a positive relationship. 

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Mutual Respect 

Being civil with your sibling leads perfectly into this next tip, which is to work on mutual respect. Mutual respect is a great thing to work on and is essential to have because it can begin to melt away issues such as sibling rivalry (because you realise that you are both different and excellent in your own ways and respect that so don’t need to compete) and conflicting personalities (because again, you respect each other in all of your differences). You still don’t have to like them, but like in another environment (such as school or work), you can have respect for someone that you may not like. 

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Know when to walk away 

Sometimes conflicts can spin way out of proportion so that you end up screaming and shouting at each other, and there may be threats of violence. All I can say to this is that if a conflict is getting out of hand and you realise that, you must know when to walk away. Why though? Isn’t that the cowardly thing to do? I don’t think so. I’m usually pretty patient and can handle being in a conflict for quite a bit, but I also have a breaking point, and so I know that to avoid saying or doing things that I will regret and to keep my integrity, I know that sometimes you have to just walk away. That gives both people a chance to breathe and cool down so that they can come back and talk about it without being so revved up by anger and emotions in general. Being able to walk away is a useful skill because you show restraint but also that you won’t sink to that level. Rather walk away and come back to discuss the issue instead of continuing and having an epic blowout – I assure you from experiencing both that the cleanup and recovery is far easier with the former than the latter. 

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Have an ‘off-limits’ zone 

This has been my saving grace rule with my brothers. Sometimes siblings just get sick of each other, or fights get out of hand, or you just want some breathing room without your sibling in your bubble. Unfortunately, if you live together, that can be quite hard because you share a house with each other. So, each of you should make an ‘off-limits’ zone where the other is not allowed without your permission. Or, if you are having a fight, think of this as your base camp that you can retreat to, and the enemy can’t follow you there. What this does is it gives you an individual place to calm down or just do things without your sibling and sometimes having that space can be the biggest relief in the world. 

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Don’t compare yourself 

In the case of sibling rivalry, comparing yourself to your sibling can be a significant source of conflict. Those thoughts of ‘they’re better at this’ or ‘they can do this and I can’t’ are toxic and only make things worse for yourself. I’ve been there. Both my brothers have incredibly high IQs – they are so smart and have to do so little work to do well and for a long time that really frustrated me because I had to put in ten more hours of work to achieve the same result. After a while, though I realised how silly it was to be comparing myself to them because we are different. I can’t do what they do, so why am I judging myself based on my ability to do what they can? One of my favourite quotes is by Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Everyone has different talents and skills, and we’re not all good at the same things. It shouldn’t be a case of trying to compete with your sibling or outperform them because you are different. You don’t need to compete – you are brilliant in your own right.  

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Don’t take it out on your sibling 

Maybe you’ve had a terrible day, and your sibling just happens to come in at the wrong time or say the wrong thing, and this pushes you over the edge. Word of advice, try not to take it out on your sibling. I understand that if your sibling is being horrible or has done something wrong then confront them about it, but don’t unleash your fury on them for no reason but catching you on a bad day. They can’t help that, and it isn’t fair to them to be unpleasant for no reason. My younger brother is sometimes grumpy with everyone when he’s had a bad day, and while it’s okay to have a bad day, you shouldn’t make that everyone else’s fault because it will only make sleeping conflicts wake or create new ones. 

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Talk to each other 

Learn to talk to each other. In the case of you’ve had a bad day, maybe talk to your sibling about it. Sometimes you’ll be surprised with the kind of advice they have to offer. Or if you’ve had a fight, instead of letting things fester, talk it out. Maybe you’re holding back a ton of things that are bugging you, and that is stopping you two from getting through a conflict. The only way to get around that is for you both to get comfortable and just talk. Talking is also very therapeutic, so even if it doesn’t completely solve your sibling problem, you will still probably feel better because you’ve got it off your chest. Talk to your sibling – they may just be waiting for you to come and ask them to listen. 

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Learn about each other’s interests 

Last but not least, what if you both have completely different interests, and because of this, there is no way to find a middle-ground or a compromise. I mean my younger brother loves sci-fi and action, but I’m a romantic comedy type of person – there aren’t very many movies that cover all those genres at the same time. Well, maybe a fun idea is to learn about your sibling’s interests. Try and take part in things they enjoy or see why they like it so much. You may find that you don’t mind it as much as before, or at the very least you will be trying to bridge the gap between the two of you. My younger brother and I, who are completely different, both love Harry Potter, and so now we at least have that one little thing to chat about together. It’s small, but at least it is something. 

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And so there you have it! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post. If you are a sibling in your young years or adult years, I hope that you’ve found one or two tips to help you if you’re having sibling conflict, and if you are a parent, I hope that you can still use some of this if your own kids are ever having sibling conflict. For my question of the day: 

  • Have you ever had a crazy sibling squabble or fight? 

My younger brother once pushed me in the pool because I beat him at monopoly … our competitive gene runs strong is all I can say. Anyway, thank you all so much for reading today’s blog post and a special thank you goes out to my friend Keeanne for helping me write it. Please don’t forget to like the post if you haven’t already and subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future posts. You guys are all awesome, and I hope you have a fantastic weekend. 

Lots of Love

Blondey on a Mission xxx

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4 thoughts

  1. My little sister once snuck up on me and bopped me on the head with a squash racquet. About 2 hours after the fight. I love you TT but wont ever turn my back to you again.

    Liked by 1 person

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