By Jan Hittelman

If you have more than one child, chances are you’ve struggled with sibling rivalry. Sibling rivalry can be more intense if your children are closer in age, the same gender, and if one child is intellectually gifted or advanced in other ways. Additional challenges can occur with siblings during the teenage years due to developmental changes that occur. Sibling rivalry issues can even continue into adulthood. While sibling rivalry is “normal”, there are several strategies that can help to minimize conflict between siblings. In many cases, subtle differences in parental attention and feedback can fuel conflicts between siblings. In addition, if family members generally display poor conflict resolution skills, children tend to fight more with each other. Consider these strategies to help reduce sibling rivalry:

• Avoid comparing or typecasting children
• Don’t play favorites
• Teach children positive ways to get attention from parents and each other
• Plan fun family activities together
• Try to make time to give each child individual parental attention
• Teach respectful conflict resolution skills
• Have family meeting where each person has an opportunity to share their feelings appropriately regarding family conflicts
• Make sure each child has his/her own space and time to do heir own activities