Helping Siblings Get Along at Every Age


Published:

If you have more than one child living under your roof, chances are you’ve dealt with sibling rivalry and shrieks of “It’s not fair!” or “But he did it first!” Because eight out of 10 children in the U.S. have one or more siblings, rivalry is a daily struggle for millions of American parents. But sibling tensions don’t have to rule your home. Here are some age-by-age strategies for smoothing sibling squabbles.

Ages 2-5

Baby Blues

Toddlers are blissfully oblivious to sibling tensions until a new baby arrives on the scene. Even a toddler who shows excitement and tenderness toward a new sibling can display a sudden, uncharacteristic jealous streak, says family therapist Josie Clark-Trippodo of Greensboro.

“Behavioral signs of jealousy could include regression, clinginess, tantrums and aggression towards the new baby, parents or pets,” she says. Jealousy can be stealthy and appear seemingly out of the blue — one reason to never leave a new baby alone with a toddler sibling.

Spending extra one-on-one time with a jealous toddler can help assure him and soothe feelings of jealousy. “Allow the child to warm up to the sibling on his or her own time, and don’t force interactions,” Clark-Trippodo says. For a smoother sibling bond, prep a tot by reading books together including  "My New Baby" by Rachel Fuller, "I'm a Big Brother" by Joanne Cole or "There Is Going To Be a Baby" by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury. Parents can pick out a special big brother or big sister gift from the baby to the older sibling and present the gift when the baby comes home from the hospital.

Ages 6-12

Compare Fair

Parents of school-aged children can accidentally fuel sibling feuds by pitting siblings against one another. Saying things to motivate and reward kids like “Hey, let’s see who can finish their chores fastest,” or “First person to clean her plate gets first pick of the popsicles,” can backfire, says licensed counselor Debbie Pincus, creator of the The Calm Parent program. Avoid creating a competitive atmosphere with races, and instead use individual rewards to encourage positive behaviors.

“Try something like ‘When you get your room clean, I will give you some time with the iPad.’ Have them compete with themselves, rather than each other,” Pincus says.

Comparisons and labels, such as “Josh gets ready so quickly in the morning, why can’t you?” or “She’s the athletic one!” can feed resentment and spark rivalry, particularly if a sibling already feels sensitive about her performance in that area. Recognize each child’s traits separately to help each child shine in his or her own right.

Ages 13-18

Positive Boost

Bickering between teen siblings can be intense, but sibling rivalry isn’t always negative. “If parents can stay out of the middle, rivalry can be positive, helping kids learn about problem-solving, empathy and self-regulation, and helping them to recognize and strive toward qualities they admire in a brother or sister,” Pincus says.

Help teen siblings learn from, instead of resent, one another’s strengths whenever possible by stepping back and allowing them to work through problems on their own. If a teen envies a sibling’s possessions, grades, social life or bank balance, ask him or her to think about the personality traits and behaviors that helped the envied sibling get what it is he or she wants, and work together to outline a few steps to help the jealous sibling achieve something similar, then step back and let the teen independently carry out the steps to promote personal growth without competition. When each sibling feels valued and heard, and nobody has to compete for a parent’s favor, kids will naturally respect their siblings, Pincus says.

Malia Jacobson is an award-winning health and parenting journalist an

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Brunches Brew is our weekly jazz jam brunch hosted by Alan Thompson (Zoocru, sax). Each Sunday grab a seat on the lawn and enjoy good vibes, food trucks and a cold brew from Hi-Wire. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
SummerStage
800 Taylor St
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Hi-Wire Brewing, abc11, and Offline

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See the world through bugs’ eyes and listen with deer’s ears. Learn how animals use their senses to get around. Play some games to discover your senses and make a smelly craft. For all ages;...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Enjoy Raleigh’s premier Japanese animation and culture convention. Concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise, unique artwork and more highlight the event. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoya an open gym, giveaways, obstacles, panel discussion, performances, the American Meltdown Food Truck, JAM Ice Cream truck and celebrity Ninjas and obstacle course racers....

Cost: Free

Where:
Warrior Tech OCR
220 G Dominion Drive
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate the merry month of May in nature! Stroll along the trails around Yates Mill Pond while searching for the many marvelous wildflowers that are in bloom. Explore how flowers function and the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This free workshop is for middle school girls, grades 6-8. Students will learn the basics of 3D computer graphics like creating objects and modeling using Clara.io. No previous experience is...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
Website »

More information

Come into Learning Express to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly and make your own butterfly habitat with live caterpillar, food, and container. You will also have the option to purchase a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Gifts
2020 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Gifts
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Search for birds. Ages 13-15. Register online. Choose course #119075.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Rribbit! Listen to the chorus of frogs and toads as the sun sets at Crowder County Park. Sort through amazing facts about amphibians, play froggy bingo, and make a froggy craft! Then walk down to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate National Trails Day and 40 years of Cary greenways. Enjoy 16-mile and 6.5 mile bike rides, a Walk n' Roll event, food trucks, inflatables and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

King Solomon #71 ,HRAM, of Raleigh NC, is hosting a Carwash and ahotdog/hamburger plate sale tobenefit the York Rite Scholarship Fund. This is an opportunity to raise funds to replenish the budget...

Cost: $10 - basic; $15 - deluxe; $5 hamburger or hot dog, chips, and a drink

Where:
Tupper Memorial Baptist Church
501 South Blount Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: King Soloman #71 HRAM
Telephone: 252-367-7111
Contact Name: James Purington
Website »

More information

Join our bird enthusiast Vernon for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats. Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Kick-off the library's summer learning program with a morning of space themed activities, games, crafts and sno-cones. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Website »

More information

Examine reptiles and amphibians and learn about their tracks and signs at an exhibit from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Enjoy family yoga sessions, learn how to identify song...

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Kick-off our Summer Learning Program with a morning of fun-filled space themed activities at the Main Library! Register for Summer Learning then Explore the Library and Beyond! All ages welcome.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Help with trail improvements. Lunch provided. Ages 6 and older with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Opportunities to explore all 4 levels of the mill don’t happen often! Learn the history of milling in North Carolina, test your mill trivia, and discover what interesting machinery is preserved...

Cost: $10/Adult, $8/Senior (ages 60+), $6/Child (ages 10-16)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take the family for a tour of backyard chicken coops and visit neighborhood chickens, bees and gardens. Proceeds benefit Urban Ministries of Wake County's mission of feeding,...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
Backyards across Raleigh, Cary, and Apex
Raleigh, NC  27603


Sponsor: Urban Ministries Of Wake County Inc
Telephone: 919-256-2187
Contact Name: Jordan Hewitt
Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This family-friendly spectacular features food, drinks, live entertainment and fun activities for kids and adults, including a Ferris wheel and carousel. The night ends with a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dix Park
101 Blair Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Reptiles are really “cool” critters! Learn more about these fascinating, often misunderstood animals and meet our educational box turtle and a few different kinds of snakes up close. Bring a...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail - New Hill parking area
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-2117
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

The library’s Teen Advisory Board invites kids, adults, & teens alike to a Hogwarts in the Library celebration! Get sorted into houses, fashion your wizarding wand, play trivia games and more!...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

The library’s Teen Advisory Board invites middle and high schoolers to put on their dress robes and gowns to attend a special, teen-only Hogwarts Ball. Registration is required...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Park
106 W. Knox St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

Learning Express transforms into a land of magic and make-believe. Enjoy a day filled with fairy hair, face painting, and many fun mystical crafts and games. Ages 3 and older. Fee...

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Learning Express Toys
4209 Lassiter Mill Rd.
#128
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

The eight-piece soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones headlines Band Together's annual event, which this year raises money for Interfaith Food Shuttle. The show also includes...

Cost: See website for fees.

Where:
Red Hat Amphitheater
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Before the screening of Isle of Dogs, join in the festivities featuring local vendors, music, dog arts and crafts, demonstrations by the American Kennel Club, a splash zone, and more. Purchase...

Cost: $8 Members, $10 Nonmembers Children 6 and under free; advance ticket purchase

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Blast off with the North Carolina Symphony as it presents music from "Star Wars," Holst's "The Planets" and more. Ages 12 and younger admitted free on the lawn.

Cost: See website for fees.

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.