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How To Stop Siblings from Fighting: A tip that only takes 15 seconds

They’re driving you crazy. The yelling. The screaming. Here’s a quick way on how to stop siblings from fighting in your home.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Without warning, your 3-year-old daughter lashes out and hits her baby brother. Or maybe your four-year-old son yells at his 9-year-old sister and then snaps the head off her Monster High doll.

You wish this was a one-off occurrence. But, no…

Something like this happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Be nice to your sister,” you plead.

“OH MY GOD!! Don’t hurt the baby!

When will it end? Nothing is helping.

In fact, the nicer you ask them to be to each other, the more belligerent they become.

Don’t you wish you knew how to help siblings get along? Or even how to stop yelling at kids every night?

How did you deal with sibling rivalry?

First, let’s think back.

Do you have a sibling?

My little sister is 7 years younger than I am.

One day, we were playing in the backyard and I said something that made her mad. To get back at me, she planted her toddler jaws into the fleshy part of my tricep.

When I tried to lift my arm up and away, she held tight like a little piranha, her feet dangled six inches from the ground.

We got into constant fights.

From my experience, she was the young and cute one – always in pigtails and looking so pretty.

I, on the other hand, was just entering puberty. Clothes suddenly pinched my waist, I never knew what to say to my peers and I hated that my sister took all my parents attention.

So, I excluded her. Told her to get out of my room. Refused to play with her and…

…tattled on every little bad thing she did.

I hit her too when I got mad.

It’s ok. It’s normal to feel like siblings fight all the time.

But what’s the alternative? Ask them to be nice all the time?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Actually, that might exacerbate the situation more.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

How to stop siblings from fighting

(FYI: For your convenience, this post may include affiliate links to products and books I find useful.  They cost you nothing more to buy, but I may get a small commission.)

According to the book, Siblings Without Rivalry, the bad feelings need to come out before the good feelings can come in.

This means that we as parents need to acknowledge the hateful, vengeful feelings between our kids before there can be any chance of harmony.

What?!? Do you mean that my kids yelling at each other is not only completely normal, but ideal?

Yep. Well, to a certain extent.

Need to acknowledge the bad feelings

Just like adults, when kids hold all of their emotions inside, they’re likely to explode in some other way.

For instance, when I’m having a completely sucky day –  those days when no one is visiting my blog, the dog used the dining room floor as her personal commode, the kitchen drain is clogged – and I try to maintain a happy exterior.

One of three things will happen, I’ll:

  • drink my weight in wine,
  • eat my entire kitchen, or
  • yell at my kids if they even look at me the wrong way.

All those negative feelings – that I have every right to feel – come out in horrible, awful, no-good, very bad ways.

We need positive ways to let our feelings out just like our kids need ways to express how they feel about their sister or brother.

How to Stop Sibling Fighting With Words

From a very early age, we as women are told to be nice.

That doesn’t exactly work when it comes to mental health.

Women tend to ruminate more than men. Whereas men turn their problems into anger and substance abuse, women tend to hold it all inside and blame themselves – thus causing depression.

Now, I’m not saying that either way is good. Both sexes could use guidance on how to better deal with emotions.

Why not teach our kids this skill at a young age? We benefit in two ways:

  • it helps our kids stop fighting, and
  • they’ll have a process they can use the rest of their life.

Here’s how to do it.

Last week, my son screamed at his sister while unloading the dishwasher:


And I responded,

“Stop yelling at your sister! Can’t you two just along?”

Ummm… ya, that didn’t help the situation one bit.

My son was furious and that’s completely OK. And, we need to show our kids how to release their feelings without attacking the other person.

Instead, I could have said,

“WOW! You sound furious at your sister. And you used your words to tell her how mad you were.”

That’s it.

Now, say instead of yelling at her, he hit her or he called her a name like “stupid” or a “jerk”.

Then, we can step in, stop the behavior and say something like:

“Whoa, no hitting and name calling in our house! You sound mad! Tell her in a way without hitting or name calling.

Sometimes kids need a break.  Try these alternatives to time out.

How to Handle Sibling Fighting With Wishes

When we can’t give our kids what they want in reality, we can always find a way to give it in fantasy.

For example, I was busy typing in our office upstairs, when my daughter came in:

“MOM! Erik threw my doll across the room!”

My first inclination as a parent: “Ignore him. He’s just trying to get your attention.”

How many times were we told this as kids? And did “ignoring him” make the situation any better?

No way! Our siblings still took our dolls and threw them across the room.

Instead, I could answer –

“That is frustrating. You sound mad. You wish he would stop throwing your dolls and apologize.”

Notice that this doesn’t require any compliance from my son – something I probably wouldn’t get immediately anyway.

But giving my daughter’s feelings a name and saying aloud what she wishes would happen shows that I understand what she’s feeling – even if her brother does not.

To deal with her brother, I use these six steps for positive discipline.

Deal with sibling rivalry through a creative or symbolic act

When kids are mad, they need an outlet.

Creativity is one of the best emotional outlets there is.

Some ideas for how your son or daughter can handle their emotions towards their siblings:

  • Draw on a piece of paper
  • Write exactly how they feel
  • Use a pillow to show what they want to do to their sibling (Warning: This may shock you, but remember them hitting a pillow is in place of what they would do to their brother or sister)

At first, your kids might resist doing something like this.

Since kids tend to copy their parent’s behavior, show them how you use creativity to release your own negative emotions.

Laundry repairman charging you for a job that he didn’t finish? Draw an ugly picture of him with dollar signs for eyes.

Mad at your 10-year-old for always leaving clothes on the floor? Write her a note.

Chances are, the next time your children are mad, they will use the form of expression that you modeled to deal with it.

Pretty cool how much influence we can have on our kids…

The next time your kids start to argue, stop sibling fighting by allowing each child to express their negative emotions.

Show them how they can use their words, give them their wishes in fantasy and model how to creatively express their emotions.

You’ll be surprised how the simple act of releasing bad feelings is one of the best sibling fighting solutions there is.

Want to stop sibling fighting and improve kid behavior? This positive parenting tip will stop kids from fighting and give them a skill they can use lifelong. Perfect advice for moms who believe in gentle parenting.

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. I totally agree. Sibling rivalry as much as it is normal is necessary sometimes, but it has to have its limit too. While it’s definitely natural to feel resentment towards to your sibling, the ways on how you show it greatly matter. It will be the measure of how you deal with anger towards other people too. Acknowledging your children’s feelings is what I have learned and will try to implement in my family. Thank you for this!

    1. Yes Veronica!! Its amazing how when we just acknowledge the feelings, the fight disappears. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. I’m a Gramma raising a 10yo a 7yo and a 3mo. This has really helped me to know what to do. I’ll try it and let you know how it goes! Thanks so much! Becky(Bebe)

  3. Any help for dealing with this? Seems to always happen in the car where I can’t separate them: my 2 year old loves to scream just to hear her voice. The loud sound upsets my 4 year old. My 4 year old starts crying, asking her sister to stop, which, for some reason, makes my 2 year old scream more. How can I get my 2 year old to stop screaming or my 4 year old to calm down and not let her sister know it bothers her?

    1. Yes!! I want to write an entire post on this 🙂 . I’ll send you my thoughts in a video email right now. Let me know if it works.

  4. Well what do you do when there words are like I hate you, your a dummy and at fat face. I wish your were never born?

    What do you do then?

    1. Nope. Not allowed, whatsoever. I say, “We do not use that language with anyone.” Make that very, VERY clear. Use a stern voice. Make them feel the seriousness of it. You can also seperate for the time being until everyone cools off.

      Then, once emotions aren’t as heated, talk about the emotions underlying what they said. Probably, hurt, disappointment, fear. And coach them through telling their sibling that by using the I statement.

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