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Parenting Skills: How to Handle a Fight Between Siblings

Updated on June 11, 2012

Fights between Siblings

Let’s face it. Conflict between siblings is inevitable. Siblings fight even before they know how to talk or walk. No matter how much they love each other there will be times when they turn their back to each other and wish the other one was never born. Even a small and unintended accident could trigger a fight.

Why do siblings fight?

The following episode is just one of the typical fights between siblings:
My three children were happily playing in the back yard when suddenly my youngest daughter shouted, “Stop spraying water at me!”, followed by a slam of the patio door, and then I immediately heard my son banging on the patio door and shouting, “Open the door!” When I rushed out from the laundry room, I saw my youngest daughter had both her hands were firmly pressed against the latch of the door with her wet hair dripping water on her back while my son was shouting and pushing the door trying to get it open from outside. They could have broken the door if I hadn’t stopped them. I got both of them to stand in front of me and take turns telling me what had happened.
“He sprayed water at me.” my youngest daughter cried.
“It wasn’t my intention. It was just an accident that you were in the way when I sprayed the water,” my son protested.
“But you knew I was standing there.” my youngest daughter rebutted.
“No, I did not know you were standing there. And then you tried to lock me out of the house, my son argued.
Then they took turns yelling “Did not!” and “Did too!” to each other until I stopped them.

How to solve it - my response in this case

“What’s the right thing to do if your brother sprays water on you?” I asked my youngest daughter, who was 7. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”
“She should have given me the opportunity to explain the accident and to apologize,” huffed my son, who was 12.
“Okay, so she didn’t. But did that give you the right to bang on the patio door? It is glass, you know,” I looked my son straight into his eyes. He lowed his head and said, “Sorry.”
“Apology accepted. Who else do you need to apologize?” I said. My son turned facing his sister and said sorry.
I looked at my youngest daughter and asked, “Is there something you should say to your brother?”
“Sorry,” She said.
“For what?” I asked.
“For accusing you, for being mean and locking you out,” she answered, looking at her brother.
Within a minute I dismissed them, they were talking and laughing on the patio again.

What did they fight for in this case?

In this fight, my youngest daughter felt that her brother was being rude by spaying water at her. And my son felt that his sister’s wrongful accusation was unfair. So the tension heated up. But the fight was stopped by giving them the opportunity to explain and to apologize.

The common reasons siblings fight for

Although each fight between siblings seems different, the causes of a fight can often be caused by these five reasons:

  • Unfairness
  • Bossiness
  • Ignorance
  • Accusation
  • Disrespect/rudeness

How to prevent fights between siblings:

Treat the conflicts between siblings as a healthy way for them to learn how to handle conflicts with other people when they grow up. Educate your children about conflicts between people can prevent unnecessary fights between them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Teach your children how to respect and love each other.
  • Explain to your children the damage inflicted to their sibling when they fight.
  • Teach your children how to solve the conflict between siblings in a calm and respectful manner.
  • Let your children know revenge is never a solution to any conflict.
  • Let your children know that everyone desires an opportunity to explain his/her action and don’t jump to a conclusion before knowing the facts.

Although it takes time and a lot of practices for children to master the skills on handling conflicts between their siblings, parents should take it as an opportunity to teach their children on how to resolve the conflict. These skills on how to handle the conflict between their siblings are very essential in their lives.

Have you ever had a fight with your sibling?

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Do you think fights between siblings enhance children's social skills?

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    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you traslochimilano for reading and commenting.

    • traslochimilano profile image

      traslochimilano 5 years ago from USA

      This is real a toughest task to handle siblings. Nice hub Kitty....

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you Mmargie1966 for vote up. :)

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Excellent! Voted up!

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you Amy for reading and vote up. I have been teaching my kids how to solve their conflict on their own ever since they turned 5. As a result, there is a very few fight each year. They would bring it to my attention when they couldn't solve a conflict on their own.

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 5 years ago from Indiana

      This is a great hub! I love the example from your own experience, as well as the pictures. I'm an only child, but I have two young children, so I need to learn as much as I can. Voted up!